4.30am: Drift awake slowing, uncertain of my circumstances, mouth dry as a ice of sundried leather, my body feeling like a steam roller has driven over me. The luxury of a nonchalant rollover, close your eyes, drift back to sleep ceases to exist when your next flight leaves at 06h45.
5.00am: Pack – check passport – check wallet – check out – check taxi – aeroporto obrigado (Airport thank you) – check in – check wallet – check passport – hold on tight. The repetitive process is the same for each flight. When travelling away from your home country there are two items that you keep on you at ALL times and hand over on threat of death alone. Passport and debit card, one can lose everything else but without either of these two, life will rapidly take on a series of complications no one would want to face. In the instance where you’re working in a foreign country the loss of a passport with accompanying work visa will very rarely have a happy ending. Baggage can get stolen but to get my passport you lever it from my cold dead fingers, good luck!
The flight to Fortaleza from Petrolina also transfers through Recife. Touching down in Fortaleza just before 10h00 it started to feel as if the steam roller has moved up and was trying to crush my skull. This is a massive city, there is a noticeably larger amount of vehicles on the road. It seemed like we drove for almost an hour before we were even out of the city. About 300 km south east lies the Mossoro region which over the last 20 years has been changed radically with an increase in agricultural output. The area is extremely sandy, hot and very dry. The sea lies close by but the rainfall remains significantly low. (600 mm average with temperatures reaching mid 40C means that red and brown are the two most common colours for the region, the latter being the vegetation and the former the sand).
Agricola Famosa is predominantly a melon grower. This grower illustrates very clearly the enormity of the Brazilian agricultural powerhouse. A total area of 24 000 ha under their control, they have 6000 ha of melons alone, at the peak of their season they are selling over 300 containers a week. Each container holding 20 tons of fruit, an annual production of over 140 000 tons of melon.
In addition to this they grow a large area of papaya and banana, and continue to supply and develop a healthy internal vegetable market growing tomatoes, sweetcorn and aubergines. They have a talapia fish section consisting of 28 growing tanks.
All their plant material is self propagated in their nursery as well as the laboratory in fortaleza.
The amazing aspect of this place is that there is no surface water available at all in this region. All irrigation water is pumped from boreholes up to 800 m deep. They needed to use oil drills to get this far down to find water.
This is one serious operation going down in one very small part of one very large country.