Text and photo by Henrique Saunier (edited by Samuel Simões)
Translated by Felipe Sá
The project “Conserving Biodiversity and Generating Income” developed in the Madeira River region (southern Amazon) that begun in 2016 comes to an end with the perspective of continuity by the community members on their own. With all ten areas of Agroforestry Systems (SAFs) planned to be implemented by the beginning of 2019, more than 100 families will benefit directly – reaching 600 being indirectly impacted – by encouraging the sustainable production of guaraná and pau-rosa, two products highly demanded in both national and international markets.
Developed and carried out by Idesam, with funding from the Mitsui Socioenvironmental Fund, the project includes producers from Apuí and the Aripuanã-Guariba Agro-Extractive Settlement area. Coca-Cola and the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) also support the project in different ways.
Alongside the integrated plantings of guaraná and pau-rosa, courses on production of seedlings, handling and processing of guaraná and support to producers in the commercialization of their production were held. The construction of a greenhouse for the production of seedlings with capacity for 25 thousand units per year was also part of the actions took to support the farmers.
According to Idesam’s agroecology coordinator, Ramom Morato, the aim is to strengthen the economy of family agriculture with the producers who have already worked with Idesam. As a result, the project gets into a larger context practiced by the NGO in the Apuí region, in line with other actions, which ensures the continuity of activities over time, even after the project is complete.
“The chosen producers followed criteria that could increase their chances of success and results. The environmental and financial benefits will be felt over the years with the development of the implanted areas. It is important to point out that the proposed models of planting in agroforestry systems can be used as recovery projects for degraded areas in rural sites that have environmental liabilities, adapting local properties in accordance with the law set in the Forest Code”, said Morato.
The decision to implement the project in Apuí considered that the municipality still dominates an agricultural model based on practices developed in the South of the Country, being one of the cities most threatened by deforestation in the Amazon. The investment in SAF areas of guaraná and pau-rosa, together with the benefits of the local forest chain, are examples that counteract the reality of deforestation practiced to convert forests to pasture. About 90% of the deforestation in the region is to convert forest areas into pasture, the main economic activity of the municipality.
“In order to offer an alternative to cattle farming, it is necessary to generate income in different segments, from seed production to seedling production, to the sale of products from agroforestry systems. The implantation of the agroforestry areas also strengthens the forest economy, because the seeds are bought from a local group of collectors, the seedlings are produced by the Santa Luzia nursery (Apuí) and the producers are benefited by the plantings, providing local income distribution”, highlights Morato.
The idea of the Demonstration Units (UDs) is that they serve as a model of production areas for these crops, encouraging other producers in the region to invest in the idea. The idea has already worked out: inspired by other producers, Maria Bernadete Diniz, even without being directly attended by the project, also began planting guaraná on her own, using the same area where she grows coffee, supported by another action of Idesam .
“I still have few seedlings of guaraná. Because it is organic, it is producing very little. Now I want to continue planting in the middle of my SAF, but now with seedlings from here, taking advantage of the rainy season”, tells the producer who lives about 17 kilometers from the Apuí headquarters.