The Brazilian sugarcane industry adheres to high labor standards that set an example for other sugarcane industries around the globe. As with most large-scale agriculture activities, sugarcane production requires a large workforce especially for sugarcane mechanized harvest, loading and transport activities. The Brazilian sugarcane industry employs 712,000 people. Source: RAIS 2019/2020
In terms of the highest average salaries paid in Brazilian agriculture, the sugarcane industry ranks second only behind soybean farming.
All workers in the sugarcane industry are hired in compliance with the current legislation and are represented by unions, which as a rule, enter into collective labor agreements with companies with benefits above the law, which varies from company to company.
Safety and health of workers are a priority of companies and they offer training and establish increasingly safe practices for the development of the work.
The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), the Organization of Cane Producers Associations (ORPLANA) and the government of the São Paulo State have partnered to create a voluntary agroenvironment protocol, at first (2007-2017), to anticipate the end of burning traditionally carried out before manual harvesting, taking into account environment criterias. Later on, the second phase of the Green protocol was created (2017 on) to promote sustainability and continuous improvement within the sugarcane production value chain. According to the results, currently mechanization accounts for more than 98% of the harvest in São Paulo and is the only means of harvesting in areas that can be mechanized.
In 2009, the Brazilian government, industry leaders and workers’ unions launched the “National Commitment for the Enhancement of Labor Conditions in Sugarcane Production”, through which the sugarcane industry voluntarily committed to abide by a set of thirty best practices. The agreement also established that the commitment to these best practices would be audited by an independent third party.
Retraining Program: As Brazil transitions away from traditional manual methods of harvesting towards mechanical techniques, sugarcane manufacturers have invested heavily in the upskilling and retraining of workers to allow them to continue to work in the sector Since the launch of the ‘retraining program (2010/11), UNICA along with its member companies and partners have trained almost 23,000 workers through local requalification programs.
Job Creation: The sugarcane industry is a key segment in the Brazilian economy, generating US $40 billion in gross annual revenue and employing more than 712 thousand people. Beyond Brazil, many cane-growing nations are located in the tropics and are often developing countries in search of new economic opportunities. Sugarcane expansion can create rural jobs and increase access to electricity.