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July 29 (Bloomberg) -- Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico & Social, Brazil’s state development bank, cut the interest rate of a credit line for sugar-cane farmers to 5.5 percent to help spur investment in new crops.

Medium and large-sized companies previously paid at least 6.3 percent, the Rio de Janeiro-based lender said today in an e-mailed statement.

The agricultural component of producing ethanol from sugar cane accounts for about 70 percent of the fuel’s cost and cheaper debt will prompt more mills to renew their crops, the bank said. The so-called Prorenova credit line has a budget of 4 billion reais ($1.76 billion).

“The change will mean a significant reduction in funding costs for the sector,” the bank said in the statement.

Companies have until Dec. 31 to apply for the 6-year loans, which include an 18-month grace period, according to the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephan Nielsen in Sao Paulo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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