Brazil's ethanol production hit a record high in 2013 as government efforts to stimulate biofuels consumption gave a jolt to the sector after four years of uncertainty.

Brazil produced 28,000 liters (7,400 gallons) of sugarcane-based ethanol last year, according to figures released this week by the state-run Energy Research Corporation, or EPE, a division of the Mines and Energy Ministry.

"The main reason for this recovery was the freeing-up of public funds for the sugar-energy sector," EPE spokesperson Denise Luna said, referring to tax exemptions and other incentives for the ethanol industry.

The government also gave production a boost by increasing the required proportion of ethanol that distributors must include in gas blends sold to service stations, raising it from 20 percent to 25 percent.

Ethanol is a major transportation fuel in Brazil, where some 80.5 percent of cars are "flex-fuel" vehicles that can run on ethanol, gasoline or any combination of the two.

Brazil, the world's third-largest biofuels producer, is committed to sugarcane-based ethanol because from production to consumption that alternative fuel emits up to 90 percent less greenhouse gases than gasoline.

The South American giant is the best answer to future global demand for biofuels because of its historical relationship with ethanol and ability to expand farm production without the need to dismantle protection for natural areas, Gerd Sparovek, a professor and researcher at the University of Sao Paulo, told Efe. EFE