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Rond˘nia - Economy
The economy of Rond˘nia is based on agriculture and extrativism.
A landmark of the economic development of Rond˘nia was the opening, in 1961, of the road BR-364, connecting Cuiabß to Porto Velho. Before then, the State was insulated in the middle of the jungle; access to and from Porto Velho was via the rivers which connected the city to Manaus and BelÚm; inflow and outflow of products was difficult.
After the BR-364, many families were attracted to Rond˘nia. The road made it easier the importation of supriments and the exportation of production.
The State had a significant portion of its area covered by cerrados (see Geography of Rond˘nia), where agriculture is much easier than in the forest. The price of land was much lower than anywhere else in Brazil; large groups from Southern States, like Paranß and Rio Grande do Sul, sold their farm properties and migrated to Rond˘nia.
The cerrados were not so fertile as the lands of the south; however, the researches of Embrapa developed several means to improve the quality of the soil.
Today, Rond˘nia is an important agricultural producer in Brazil. Among the principal products are soy, cocoa, coffee, corn, beans and rice.
The exploration of timber in Rond˘nia started with the opening of BR-364; the roads which brought men and material were used to transport timber, on the way back to the south.
The forests of Rond˘nia are particularly rich in trees which produce high quality timber, like mogno and cerejeira; production is exported as sliced or whole trunks, with little added value. The high prices fetched by this kind of wood has always caused predatory exploration; the government has taken measures to diminish predation, like incentivating reforestation and creating reserves, but these measures are far from solving the problem.
Besides timber, another important product extracted from nature is cassiterite; in the 1980s, timber explorers found a mine of cassiterite, which would become of the largest in the world.
Over recent years, another product has contributed to boost the economy and the preocupation of ecologists: the cattle raising.
Rond˘nia has already one of the largest count of cattle heads in Brazil, which are sold in Rond˘nia, Amazon states, other Brazilian States and exported to nearby countries.
The problem is that, instead of occupying the cerrados (now not so cheap), the ranches are being formed in the areas of forest (usually after illegal occupation). The easiest way to clear the forests is by burning them down (usually, after the noblest trees are cut and saved). This process of burning down the forest, called queimadas in Portuguese, is one of the main factors of devastation happening in the Amazon.
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