Agroindustry 4.0 and transnational capital

Pieter Bruegel (1525–1569), The Harvesters, oil on wood, 1565.


On the formation, control and performance of the new logistics companies – the logtechs

In the concept of Agroindustry 4.0, people, equipment and information act in an integrated way, configuring a hyperconnectivity through terms and content of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Computing and Machine Learning. All in order to increase productivity, or the performance/behavior of the sector whose lexicon has become quite broad and includes terms innovation, performance and Return on Investment (ROI – Return On Investment). According to the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) agribusiness was one of the three economic sectors that grew last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Institute, agriculture increased its participation in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 5,1 in 2019 to 6,8 in 2020, attributing this increase to productivity gains. The highlight is soybeans (7,1%) and coffee (24,4%), which reached record productions in the historical series.[I]

At the beginning of July this year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a report highlighting Brazil's role as one of the main global suppliers of food 63% of world exports of soy, 56% of sugar, 44% of fish, 42% of beef and 33% of chicken meat. Specifically on soybeans, Brazil should represent around 2030% of total exports by 50, with China importing two thirds of the world total.[ii].

The logistics sector could not be oblivious to these transformations and the implementation of direct and indirect investment units by transnational companies in the transport, storage, commercialization and industrialization of grains have significantly altered the geographic design of Brazilian agriculture in the last decade. With the expansion of agriculture over the Legal Amazon biomes[iii] new routes, transport and storage strategies are also emerging that make up the necessary infrastructure that articulates the modal systems of waterways, railways, highways and ports.

The impacts that this expansion has caused and the effects of destructive capital on nature, territories and worlds of work has also been the subject of our academic concerns in recent years. Productive spatialization and circulation in the Amazonian territories represent the structuring and productive engineering of agroindustry 4.0 in the region, which is also an expression of the permanent productive restructuring driven by new technologies and, consequently, by the new social and technical division of work imposed by its way of working. production and the world market that dominates and has controlled the generation of wealth and new accumulation.

The number of logtechs that have emerged in Brazil has been considerable. There are already around 283 startups in the logistics sector and they are present in five areas of activity: Logistics Management (43,6%), which presents efficient solutions in the management of the logistics process, using analytics, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence ; Delivery (19,4%), services for more efficient delivery to the final consumer, exploring different modes, such as even drones; Reverse Logistics (12%), services that intermediate the return of a product to the supply chain; Stock (11,3%), companies that use technology warehouses, distribution centers, stock flow and activities such as loading and unloading traffic; Frente Marketplace (11%), solutions that act as intermediaries between suppliers and carriers for the delivery of fractional loads, allowing comparative analysis and freight quotation[iv].

The logistics market followed the growth of agribusiness and e-commerce. On 28/06/2021, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Banco do Brasil and New Development Bank[v] (NDB) (better known as the BRICS Bank) in order to finance the expansion of warehouses in the country. According to the Valor Econômico newspaper, the amounts earmarked will be around R$1,5 billion, which can be paid in up to 18 years. Banco do Brasil's performance in rural credit for the 2021/2021 season is around 135 billion, 17% more compared to the values ​​of the previous season[vi]. In this same report, the Minister of Economy Paulo Guedes stated that the “Brazilian vocation to be the breadbasket of the world is unavoidable” and that “for the first time, agribusiness has surpassed the transformation industry itself”.

The celebration, in fact, is cause for great concern since agribusiness is champion of informal employment, where the use of new technologies has made work increasingly superfluous to use Istvan Mészáros's expression, and which, leading the country towards reprimarization and deindustrialization and social chaos in big cities will feel (as they already do) a big impact. The unemployment rate is frightening and is already around 14,5% in April 2021. Brazil is expected to register this year the 14th highest unemployment rate in the world according to the risk rating agency Austin Rating[vii].

During the Juscelino Kubitscheck government, the fact that industrial production surpassed the country's agrarian-export condition for the first time was celebrated, which highlighted the paths and alternatives for industrialization in Brazil given the set of issues (agrarian, national, social and etc) and the historical-structural alternatives of capitalist development and its heterogeneous political forces in the 1950s[viii]. Professor Wilson Cano in his book “Regional imbalances and industrial concentration in Brazil 1930/1070” presented an important panorama on industrialization and the regional issue that highlighted, among other points, the integration of the national market and the intensification of inter-regional economic relations .

It is also worth highlighting the strategic role of industrialization, although this takes place through a subordinated and consented industrialization, as Professor Rubens Sawaya very well pointed out.[ix] in his article “Economic power, development and neoliberalism in Brazil”.

The graph above shows the sharp drop in the participation of the manufacturing industry in the Brazilian Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reaching a lower mark than the index celebrated in the 1950s as the point of rise of industrialization in the country. The recent departure of numerous companies from Brazil and the already mentioned alarming unemployment rates that have led thousands of Brazilians to become informal, precarious or simply discouraged are fundamental aspects for understanding how the paths of reprimarization and the abundant incentive policies for agribusiness are collapsing other sectors at various levels.

The agro-export specialization has received colossal contributions of investments and the offer of credit, accompanied by forgiveness of millionaire fines to landowners, the relaxation of environmental laws and debates about the time frame of indigenous lands[X] to favor the expansion and consolidation of its activities in the territories.

The logistics financing operations between Banco do Brasil and the NDB (New Development Bank) demonstrate this specialization that leads the country to the most accelerated process of reprimarization and deindustrialization of its economy.

In order to demonstrate the degree of importance and financialization capacity of the sector, we highlight in this text the current directions of the privatization processes and concession of highways, airports and railways as a way of assuring how this segment is linked to the standards of modernization and innovation in the same perspective of innovation, management and industry 4.0. The circulation of goods and its role in structuring territories also indicates the selectivity of the transnational capitals that rise in Brazil. The processes of deindustrialization and reprimarization are convergent and corroborate the thesis that these capitals guide, reorganize, control and subordinately insert Latin America and particularly Brazil into the world market as a whole from the perspective of commoditization[xi]. It is also worth remembering the studies carried out by Professor Ariovaldo Umbelino de Oliveira on the new geography of soy production, which highlights, among other issues, territorial policies for transport infrastructure[xii] essential for the consolidation of the sector.

The results of this are concrete and can be seen in the impacts and speed of deforestation, criminal burnings, the subjection of territories and populations to control, the mode of production and the social and technical division of labor under the control of companies installed in the region and also noticeable in the dispossessions for the expansion of production, be they soft (grains) or hard (metals) commodities. Spatiotemporal “adjustment,” as David Harvey puts it, “is a metaphor for solutions to capitalist crises through temporal deferral and geographic expansion”[xiii] and its organization, therefore, includes contradictory, excluding and destructive relationships.

In this sense, the understanding of the domain, largely by transnational capital, of logistics, allows us to understand how this dimension of Agroindustry 4.0 has been constituting the necessary infrastructure to give productive and circulation power to this Specific Zone of Intense Accumulation (ZEIA)[xiv] what the Legal Amazon has become. The auctions in the north and central block that were recently auctioned demonstrate the productive specialization of agricultural expansion territories, especially soy.

In the first half of April 2021, a series of auctions was initiated involving 28 infrastructure assets and the concession of three blocks for a period of 30 years. The interest of the market and the movement of international capital around the sector drew a lot of attention, which left the auction 9.209% above the expected collection value. The auction week was called “Infra Week” by the Ministry of Infrastructure and started on April 7 at the headquarters of B3[xv] in Sao Paulo. The mentioned blocks were divided as follows:

South Block (9 airports): Curitiba (PR), Foz do Iguaçu (PR), Navegantes (SC), Londrina (PR), Joinville (SC), Bacacheri (PR), Pelotas (RS), Uruguaiana (RS) and Bagé (LOL);

North Block (7 airports): Manaus (AM), Porto Velho (RO), Rio Branco (AC), Cruzeiro do Sul (AC), Tabatinga (AM), Tefé (AM) and Boa Vista (RR);

Central Block (6 airports): Goiânia (GO), São Luís (MA), Teresina (PI), Palmas (TO), Petrolina (PE) and Imperatriz (MA)[xvi].

The minimum bid for the initial contribution of each block had as minimum values ​​R$ 130,2 million for the South Block, R$ 47,8 million for the North Block and R$ 8,1 million for the Central Block. Currently, around 67% of all national traffic is already granted to the private sector, a very significant number[xvii]. In this package of concessions, the government includes the forecast to carry out, by December of this year, the rebidding of the airport of São Gonçalo do Amarante, in Natal (RN). For 2022, the Ministry foresees the auction of the 7th round, which includes the airports of Santos Dumont (RJ) and Congonhas (SP).

On the 8th, it was the turn of the auction for the West-East Integration Railway, FIOL, a section that runs from Ilhéus (BA) to Caetité (BA). This stretch was designed to collaborate with the logistics of transporting iron ore to the port that will be built in Ilhéus. FIOL's project also foresees the construction of two more stretches: one from Caetité (BA) to Barreiras (BA) and another linking Barreiras (BA) to Figueirópolis in Tocantins, integrating the port of Ilhéus to the North-South Railway.

On the 9th, the port terminals were leased: 4 at the Port of Itaqui/MA (IQI03, IQI11, IQI12 and IQI13) and 1 at the Port of Pelotas/RS (PEL01). In the port of Maranhão there are at least 4 areas dedicated to the storage of liquid bulk and general cargo, especially wood, which is very important for the logistics of pulp production in the region.

Companhia de Participações em Concessões, CCR's Brazilian subsidiary, acquired the southern and central blocks. The southern block was sold for BRL 2,128 billion while the central block was priced at BRL 754 million. The north block was won by the company VinciAirport for 420 million[xviii].

CCR is considered one of the largest infrastructure concession companies in Latin America. Its controlling shareholder structure includes the participation of Grupo Soares Penido (15,05%), Grupo Mover (14,86%), Grupo Andrade Gutierrez (14,86%) and Novo Mercado (55,23%). The international participation in the company is 82%, 15% comes from legal entities in Brazil and 3% from individuals.

VinciAirport is a subsidiary of Grupo Vince, a global player that finances, builds and operates a network of 36 airports (France, Portugal, Cambodia, Japan, Dominican Republic, Chile and Brazil). The company had already won, in 2017, the concession of the Salvador International Airport – Deputy Luís Eduardo Magalhães for R$ 1,59 billion, being responsible for the administration of the airport for 30 years.

In June, a new movement in the logistics sector took place. Companies in the field of seeds, pesticides and other inputs in the agricultural sector have joined together to form a new logistics company. The Amaggi Tradings[xx], L.D.C.[xx], Cargill[xxx] and ADM[xxiii] joined TIP Bank to create a logistics and payment company for road freight related to agribusiness. It is the formation of what is called LogFinTech. The Amaggi & LD Commodities group already stood out for leasing port terminals, including the bulk carrier in Itacoatiara in the state of Amazonas where it tranships to merchant ships in Rondônia, among others.

Brazil is the third largest road transport market in the world, behind only China and the United States, which in itself means that it is a sector that attracts a lot of interest. With the expansion of agribusiness and mining projects, logistics appears more and more as a prominent link in its value chain. A market that is forecast to grow by 5,22 billion dollars according to a research report carried out by Technavio[xxiii].

The so-called “digital revolution in logistics” has operated in an innovative way: means of payment for modal transport, freight card and discounts on fuel at accredited service stations. It is worth remembering that Bunge already operates in this market segment and recently announced a partnership with the provider of logistics and technology solutions Target[xxv] to create a new company, Vector[xxiv], having as its main focus the digitization of road freight contracting processes and other services.

The advance of transnational capital on the logistics sector has been highlighted as we have been able to verify. The agro value chain has become increasingly complex, representing an opportunity for investment and wealth accumulation, establishing a new geography of circulation, transport and logistics and which redefines the understanding of the economic restructuring currently seen in the world and, above all, in Brazil , technologically establishing the process of managing transport and logistics work through digital platforms.

The importance of logistics in the current formation of the capitalist mode of production is inserted in the revaluation of this sector as a result of the global competition imposed by the globalization of capital. It is worth mentioning that the circulation of goods redefines the uses of the territory and, consequently, its restructuring. The activity of transport and storage become essential ways of an increasingly financialized/rentier economy.

Agroindustry 4.0 is, therefore, the mode of production that controls, subordinates and institutes the logic of a new accumulation that impacts nature, territories and the worlds of work and that is a synergistic whole of potential links for the production of wealth and accumulation. The transnational capitalist class bet on processes that were externalized by companies with the advance of outsourcing and deregulation.

As a result, these sectors leverage the value chain by technologically modernizing their procedures and techniques and, once again, impacting the organization of work and how it is controlled, employed and remunerated. The commodity export agenda that has a decisive impact on our process of deindustrialization and reprimarization has decisive implications for the category of work with the “growing superfluous workforce” as pointed out by István Mészáros in his book Beyond Capital[xxv].

The behavior of the world market is the expression of a movement of permanent restructuring that restructures its coordinates and that guarantees the circulation process that is deeply connected with the fact that the US is no longer able to expand the agricultural frontier in its territory since the second half of the year. 2018 according to data from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), making Brazil the region country with this capacity and reaching the condition of the largest soybean producer on the planet[xxviii].

Source: Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics - IBGE/2019.

Commodity flows are an externalization of space and time and the actualization of capitalist relations of production. In this sense, when talking about agroindustry 4.0, logistics is another link that represents the presence of transnational capital, which expand production, processing and logistics units from new ventures in new areas in order to connect activities in geographically diverse spaces. scattered. The insertion of new technologies in transport and storage, which also determines a new social and technical division of work that mixes new and old forms, also the result of an uneven and combined development under the command of the new market share (market share) of transnational companies. Trading companies such as Bunge, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, ADM and Bayer focus on supply from producing countries and are organized in order to invest, structure and control key links in this business chain. This new business engineering causes a qualitatively radical change, but one that does not only correspond to “innovation” but also takes advantage of the socio-historical context of the regions in which they operate.

As Harvey well put it, “The production of space, the organization of completely new territorial divisions of labor, the opening up of complex new and cheaper resources and of new dynamic spaces of capital accumulation, in addition to the penetration of pre-existing social formations by social relations and capitalist institutional arrangements (such as contractual rules and private property arrangements), are some of the ways to absorb surplus capital and labor. Geographical expansions, reorganizations, and reconstructions, however, generally threaten values ​​fixed in place but not yet realized elsewhere.[xxviii].

Circulation conditions are as important as production conditions. Transport and storage have become one of the ways of objectifying wealth and accumulation insofar as they are responsible for the fluidity of the process. In this way, this sector becomes frequently monetized and inserted in the field of financialized relations and in the field of action of transnational capital.

The Legal Amazon as a territory of expansion of the monoculture and mining agricultural frontier represents a Special Zone of Intense Accumulation as a result of the advance of capital that constantly demands the expansion and modernization of infrastructures. Under this motto, the transnational capitalist class wins concessions for railroads, highways and airports because they dominate the importance of circulation for the realization of capital. The efficiency of a transport, storage and communication network are the elements that permanently require technological updating, also contributing this sector to the productive spatialization of places and to the territorial division of labor.

The articulation, fluidity, structuring and organization of territories allows us to understand the formation of ZEIAS (Specific Zones of Intense Accumulation) as part of the productive specialization and spatialization of places and their insertion subordinated to the interests of the world market controlled by the transnational capitalist class, a result of the new engineering of the capital system and its crises that it encounters in global mobility and in the realization of new globalized circuits of production, accumulation and functional integration in production and distribution. The main transnational corporations in the world, as William Robinson very well points out[xxix], introduce local production chains into complex transnational networks.

In this sense, the need to understand the so-called Global Spaces is also registered, as Juan Manuel Sandoval Palácios calls our attention: “I consider that the Global Spaces emerge or are produced in spaces that previously han were keys for the previous phases of the development of capitalism.

Due to their historical and geographic characteristics, certain areas of the planet are keys to intense global accumulation, since they were previously areas that were produced through uneven geographic development, a product of diversification, innovation and competition, mainly during the of world capitalism to benefit capitalist accumulation and by processes of geographical expansion of capital, as pointed out by Harvey (2006a). And the Mexico-United States border, as well as other regions of the American Continent (the Central American Isthmus, the Cuenca del Caribe, the Amazonia, the Cuenca de la Plata, the Andes and Patagonia) have developed in this way”[xxx].

In this sense, he points out that in global spaces transnational and national capitals coexist and reproduce in certain coordinated and integrated sectors, often horizontally and vertically feeding the value chain and its investors posted hierarchically by their global power and financial capacity.

The growth of the informational-digital machinery in the links of the global agro chain there is an exponential expansion of dead work that also expands its domain over living work, real subsumption of work to capital. It is computerization with informalization and a drastic reduction in the forms of jobs that guarantee rights. The working class continues to be increasingly segmented, heterogeneous, in a frank process of erosion and setbacks of its rights.

Platformized capitalism plays a special role in the deanthropomorphization of work (Lukács) or, as Ursula Huws highlights[xxxii] “other forms and modalities of precariousness” responsible for the generation of the cybertariat, which corresponds to a new global workforce that intensely mixes “informatization” with “informalization” and that inevitably vilifies work relations exemplified in the invasion of work time in time of life, as highlighted by Ricardo Antunes in his book “The privilege of servitude”. Antunes also makes it clear that there is a fundamental ontological element in this relationship: without some form of human work, capital cannot reproduce itself, because machines do not create value, but enhance it.[xxxi].

The expansion of capitalism over agriculture has as its motto the technological leap of Agroindustry 4.0 and means the expansion of increasingly automated and robotic production processes throughout the value chain, so that logistics is yet another link concerning this antisocial metabolism of the capital.

*Fabiana Scoleso Professor of International Relations at the Federal University of Tocantins (UFT).

Originally published on Maria Antonia Newsletter, USP, Year 2 nº 22/2021.


[I] See also

[ii] For the full content of the report, access

[iii] According to the IBGE, the Legal Amazon corresponds to the area of ​​operation of the Superintendence for the Development of the Amazon - SUDAM delimited in accordance with Art. 2 of Complementary Law n. 124, of 03.01.2007. The region is made up of 772 municipalities distributed as follows: 52 municipalities in Rondônia, 22 municipalities in Acre, 62 in Amazonas, 15 in Roraima, 144 in Pará, 16 in Amapá, 139 in Tocantins, 141 in Mato Grosso, as well as, by 181 municipalities in the State of Maranhão located west of the 44th meridian, of which 21 are partially integrated in the Legal Amazon. It has an approximate surface area of ​​5.015.067,75 km², corresponding to approximately 58,9% of the Brazilian territory.


[v] https://www.ndb.i



[viii] DRAIBE, Sonia. Directions and metamorphoses: state and industrialization in Brazil – 1930/1960. 2 ed. Rio de Janeiro:


[X] See also

[xi] SVAMPA, Maristella. The frontiers of neoextractivism in Latin America: socioenvironmental conflicts, eco-territorial turn and new dependencies. Sao Paulo: Elephant, 2019.

[xii] for more see

[xiii] HARVEY, David. The senses of the world: essential texts. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2020. p.285.

[xiv] As theorized by Professor Juan Manuel Sandoval Palácios in his text

[xv] B3 (stylized as [B]³ in reference to the initials of Brasil, Bolsa, Balcão) is the official stock exchange of Brazil, headquartered in the city of São Paulo. In 2017, it was the fifth largest capital and financial market in the world, with assets of 13 billion dollars.




[xx] Amaggi is a Brazilian trading company owned by Lucia Borges Maggi, her son Blairo Maggi and her four sisters, an inheritance built in the family with the patriarch André Antonio Maggi. Headquartered in Cuiabá, it is currently one of the leading Agribusiness companies in Latin America and operates in 7 countries. In addition to trading, the company has branches in the areas of seeds, river transport, soy processing, energy generation and in the financial area.

[xx] LDC is a global marketer and processor of agricultural products.

[xxx] Cargill provides food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services to the world.

[xxiii] Archer Daniels Midland Company is a conglomerate based in Decatur, Illinois. ADM operates more than 270 factories worldwide, where cereal grains and oilseed plants are transformed into countless products used in the food, beverage, industrial and animal feed industries for markets around the world.

[xxiii] for more see



[xxv] MESZÁROS, István. In addition to the capital. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2006.


[xxviii] HARVEY, David. The senses of the world: essential texts. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2020. p. 285.

[xxix] ROBINSON, WI Transnational Conflicts: Central America, Social Change and Globalization. San Salvador: UCA Editores, 2011. p. 173.

[xxx] PALACES, Juan Manuel Sandoval. The Arizona-Sonora megaregion as a Specific Zone of Intense Accumulation (ZEIA) in the global space for the expansion of transnational capital on the Mexico-United States border. Post Social Sciences Magazine, v. 16, no. 32, 2019. p. 26.


[xxxi] ANTUNES, Ricardo. The privilege of serfdom: the new service proletariat in the digital age. 2 ed. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2020.

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