Agro industry consists of industrial processes, developed between the 60’s and 70’s, related to the transformation of raw materials from agriculture and livestock. This transformation aims not only to improve the quality of these products by increasing their nutritional value, their shelf life, in addition to reducing their seasonality, adding value to the food, but also to benefit this material to be used in other productive sectors.
Among the areas covered by the agro industry, we can mention the sugar and alcohol sector with the production of both sugar for the food industry and alcohol for the fuel and beverage industry, among others. There is also the dairy sector, in which a variety of products are obtained from the processing of milk, such as cheese, yogurt, butter.
Food and non-food category
We can also divide the agro industry into two axes: food and non-food. The food axis boils down to a process where the raw material is obtained, handled, stored, processed, marketed and distributed to feed people.
The so-called non-food category concerns the transformation or reuse of products in areas that are not used for food consumption by the population, but for other functions, such as clothing, leather, shoes and energy production — such as biodiesel and ethanol.
It is interesting to observe that the agro industry can bring together more than one segment in different processes. And this is noticed in rural and industrial sectors. The plantation, in the production of sugar cane, for example, and the refrigerator responsible for meat are part of the same agglomerate of agro industry.
Types of agro industry
When we think of the agro sector, it is common to visualize large fields with plantations and machines harvesting grains and other rural products. The types of agro industry and their fronts, however, go far beyond that, and are present in processes that, apparently, are isolated, but are linked to the agro process, such as:
- Refrigerated items, that is, meat from poultry and fish, or the more traditional beef;
- Milk and derivatives, such as different types of cheese and yogurt;
- Textile industry, with clothes made from wool, leather and cotton, for example;
- The agricultural machinery and equipment industry itself,
- Animal feed, aimed both at animals present in the rural environment and at pets.
All these segments can still be added to the bioenergy and processing sectors. In this way, it is possible to observe that the agro industry is present in people’s lives at all times, and is responsible for a large part of the products used in the daily lives of the population.
Agro industry has been generating great impacts in several sectors since the concept of joining agriculture and industry started to be put into practice. This connection required, from the beginning, greater integration between rural producers and international groups, together with the State as a financial capitalist. Since then, it has played a large part in the formation of the Brazilian GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and is also a stage of highlights in the export of some products and food.
The activity of agro industry requires the use of natural resources and, therefore, impacts on the environment are inevitable, especially when talking about large-scale production or overexploitation. Therefore, we can bring some examples of consequences of the use of inputs, chemical pesticides and use of non-renewable sources:
- Destruction of soils;
- Rampant consumption of water;
- Higher emission of greenhouse gases;
- Pollution of groundwater;
- Destruction of biomes;
- Climate changes;
- Water contamination;
- Soil erosion.
Despite the impacts that agro industry generates, it is possible to reduce them through planning, study and use of conservation techniques for each environment.
As the main cause of water wastage in agribusiness comes from irrigation, alternative methods must be increasingly considered, such as drip irrigation and irrigation scheduling, however production and site conditions must always be considered before any Implementation.
With regard to gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels, it is interesting to seek to maximize efficiency in energy expenditure. Alternative energy sources may not sound economically attractive, but they can pay off in the long run.
One way to deal with these environmental impacts in general is through more conscious industrial improvement, which promotes more sustainable processes and includes environmental risk analysis, as well as projects that neutralize the impacts generated by each company.