Alexandre Schenkel appointed President of Brazilian Cotton Growers Association (Abrapa)

Newly appointed president Alexandre Schenkel wants to continue the path of innovation and resilience, as the association seeks to further explore communication channels with the global market.

Elected for the 2023-2024 biennium, Brazilian cotton grower Alexandre Pedro Schenkel has taken office as the new president of the Brazilian Cotton Growers Association (Abrapa), which is responsible for Cotton Brazil, our global cotton promotion program.

The inauguration ceremony took place in the capital city of Brasília on Dec 7 and was attended by 600 guests, including representatives of member associations, sector leaders and politicians. The new members of the Board of Directors and Audit Committee also took office on the same day. The ceremony was the stage for the official launching of a book in celebration of Abrapa’s 20th anniversary: “Algodão: o fio da história no Brasil” (Cotton: the thread of history in Brazil).

The new president wants collaboration and to see Brazil as a top exporter

In his inauguration speech, Schenkel talked about the future of the Brazilian cotton industry. He highlighted the sector’s challenges, such as the expansion of the traceability and sustainability programs and the implementation of the official certification, which will start as a pilot-project in 2022, by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), with Abrapa’s support.

“We are prepared to work and seek more and more excellence in what we do. It is, in fact, a collective and associative work that will allow us to make Brazil the largest supplier and exporter of cotton in the very near future”, said Schenkel.

Who is Abrapa’s new president?

Alexandre Schenkel takes the helm of the association in 2023 with a vast experience in the market and well-established institutional relations, since he served as vice-president in the most recent administration. In addition, he has been growing cotton, soybeans, corn and dry beans since 1989 in Mato Grosso, the largest cotton producer state in Brazil.

The new president has a degree in Agronomy from the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), was president of the Campo Verde Farmers’ Cooperative (Cooperverde), and has actively participated in the Mato Grosso Cotton Growers Association (Ampa) since he started his activity in farming. He has already served as president of the Mato Grosso Cotton Institute (IMAmt) and the Social Cotton Institute (IAS) in the 2017/2019 administration; he also served as the 1st Secretary of the Brazilian Cotton Growers Association (Abrapa), and president of the Pensar Agropecuária Institute (IPA).

Previous management leaves a legacy of overcoming difficulties

When taking stock of his term at the head of the association, president Júlio Cézar Busato, who is stepping down now, spoke about the importance of the sector’s union and recalled the challenges of the period, which included the pandemic, climate issues, market instability, and production costs increases.

“The strength of the organized sector is what made us believe in better days ahead, and if we got this far, with market recognition, it was through continuous work, with emphasis and attention to research, innovation, and technology. We wish those who take over Abrapa now all the success and that they keep on advancing in the global processes and demands”, said Busato.

Minister acknowledges innovation of Brazilian cotton

The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply (MAPA), Marcos Montes, highlighted the work of the Brazilian cotton industry, which in a little more than two decades has reinvented itself, grown, and excelled in lint production and exports.

“The cotton industry embodies what we want from the national agribusiness: a production system that is sustainable across the social, environmental, and economic fronts”, he said.

In a little more than two decades, the Brazilian cotton industry has grown from 800 thousand to 3.3 million tons of lint, and the country has become the second largest exporter. To explain this turnaround and tell the story of cotton in Brazil, Abrapa has published a book celebrating the association’s 20th anniversary, “Algodão: o fio da história no Brasil” (Cotton: the thread of history in Brazil).

The publication was written by journalist Catarina Guedes, with a preface by economist and former Minister of Finance Maílson da Nóbrega. The idea of writing it came up in 2020, under the administration of former president Milton Garbúgio, as a means of making known not only the journey of cotton in Brazil, but the close relationship between the success of this activity and the creation of Abrapa, in 1999, and of the state member associations. The book was concluded in 2022, under the administration of the current president, Júlio Cézar Busato.

For Busato, preserving the memory of cotton production in Brazil is fundamental and challenging, mainly because it is an open story that is still being told, the characters are alive and active, and the third generation of pioneers is already starting to take up the baton. “Very soon we will be able to add another chapter, when the country takes over the United States, its main competitor in the global arena, to reach the top of the ranking of the largest exporters”, he said. Copies of the book were distributed to guests during the inauguration ceremony. In addition to growers, the event was attended by the presidents of the state associations, congressmen, businessmen, and representatives from the textile sector.