SÃO PAULO, March 6 (Reuters) - Dry weather improved conditions on a rugged Amazon road that serves as the key link between soy fields and northern ports, ending an immense backlog of trucks carrying the beans, the Army said Monday.
Rains were heavier than normal for weeks, turning an unpaved section of the BR-163 highway into a swampy mess and leaving thousands of loaded trucks stranded in southern Para state.
Brazil is world’s largest soybean exporter, and is the final stages of a record harvest of more than 100 million tonnes.
Losses ran at $400,000 a day for grain traders trying to move the soy from Mato Grosso state about 765 km (475 miles) north to river ports.
The federal government started emergency repairs to the 100-km (62-mile) stretch of unpaved road last week, which helped ease the bottleneck.
But there were still about 1,500 trucks, which can carry about 30 to 40 tonnes of soybeans each, stranded on Friday.
The Brazilian Army said that as of Monday afternoon no trucks were at a standstill.
“Traffic was freed this morning in both directions. As rains stopped, the mud dried and now the problem is the dust, which hinders visibility,” the Army said.
But there are forecasts for more heavy rains along the northern route in the coming days - and authorities have said they will simply not allow trucks to try that road if conditions deteriorate again.
Last week, at least 11 ships faced delays in loading soybeans in northern ports, which have seen large investments by commodities traders like Bunge Ltd, Archer Daniels Midland Co and Cargill Inc in recent years, in an attempt to bypass the badly overburdened ports in southern Brazil.
Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said some 600,000 tonnes of soybeans were diverted to southern ports because of the issue with the northern route. (Reporting by Gustavo Bonato; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)