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December 14, 2020

Major Improvements Planned for Brazilian Highway BR-163

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The Brazilian Highway BR-163 was constructed through the Amazon rainforest in the early 1970's in order to connect the state of Mato Grosso with the Amazon River. The highway remained unpaved for decades and it was only passable during the dry season. The government recently decided to complete the highway after several years of embarrassing news reports of trucks being stopped for weeks at a time due to muddy conditions.

The Brazilian government enlisted the Brazilian Army to complete the paving of the last 51 kilometers this past February at a cost of R$ 158 million. The highway now connects the city of Sinop in northern Mato Grosso with the Port of Itaituba on the Tapajos River. Soybeans and corn produced in Mato Grosso are trucked to the port and then barged down the Amazon River to ports near the mouth of the river.

Parts of the highway are now more than 40 years old and the government has decided to make improvements on the highway. They will accept bids on the various improvement projects during the first half of 2021. The improvements will include: installing 35 kilometers of passing lanes in the hillier sections, installing 30 kilometers of turning lanes, 173 kilometers of the highway will be widened, 187 access points to the highway will be improved, and the construction of a new entrance to the Port of Itaituba. The cost of the improvement projects is estimated at R$ 3 billion.

Highway BR-163, which is often called the "Soybean Highway", was the first highway to connect the majority of Brazil to the Amazon region. It is now considered the most important highway in Brazil for the movement of grain both north and south out of the state of Mato Grosso, which is Brazil's largest producer of soybeans, corn, cotton, and cattle. The completion of the highway is encouraging more grain to move north to export facilities in Brazil/s "Northern Arc of Ports".