SÃO PAULO, March 6 Dry weather improved
conditions on a rugged Amazon road that serves as the key link
between soy fields and northern ports, ending an immense backlog
of trucks carrying the beans, the Army said Monday.
Rains were heavier than normal for weeks, turning an unpaved
section of the BR-163 highway into a swampy mess and leaving
thousands of loaded trucks stranded in southern Para state.
Brazil is world's largest soybean exporter, and is the final
stages of a record harvest of more than 100 million tonnes.
Losses ran at $400,000 a day for grain traders trying to
move the soy from Mato Grosso state about 765 km (475 miles)
north to river ports.
The federal government started emergency repairs to the
100-km (62-mile) stretch of unpaved road last week, which helped
ease the bottleneck.
But there were still about 1,500 trucks, which can carry
about 30 to 40 tonnes of soybeans each, stranded on Friday.
The Brazilian Army said that as of Monday afternoon no
trucks were at a standstill.
"Traffic was freed this morning in both directions. As rains
stopped, the mud dried and now the problem is the dust, which
hinders visibility," the Army said.
But there are forecasts for more heavy rains along the
northern route in the coming days - and authorities have said
they will simply not allow trucks to try that road if conditions
Last week, at least 11 ships faced delays in loading
soybeans in northern ports, which have seen large investments by
commodities traders like Bunge Ltd, Archer Daniels
Midland Co and Cargill Inc in recent years, in
an attempt to bypass the badly overburdened ports in southern
Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said some 600,000 tonnes
of soybeans were diverted to southern ports because of the issue
with the northern route.
(Reporting by Gustavo Bonato; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)