Ecological restoration, agroforestry systems, and carbon storage were in focus during a workshop with family farmers and local leaders in Tomé-Açu in northeast Pará, Brazil on 10-11 August 2022.
During the two-day event – which was attended by around 200 people – researchers and technicians from the Center for International Forestry Research–World Agroforestry Centre (CIFOR-ICRAF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) conducted educational activities and answered questions about agroforestry, agroecology, ecological restoration, and carbon.
Many participants were excited to learn about the carbon market and to discover that planting trees on their properties had the potential to generate income through carbon storage and the sale of carbon credits. “Carbon will be an extra income, a bonus benefit from the areas where we are producing,” said Almir Pantoja Mendes, CIFOR-ICRAF’s farmer partner in the SAF Dendê project, which involved agroforestry oil palm production in Tomé-Açu.
However, Mendes emphasized the importance of keeping agricultural production at the forefront for farming families, as it ensures fixed income for smallholder farmers in the short, medium, and long term. For him, agroforestry has made a big impact on his farming practice, and he’s keen to expand his use of the system. “I have been a farmer for seven years, and I learned about the agroforestry system with [CIFOR-]ICRAF in 2018,” he said. “I have one hectare [in agroforestry] and I want to establish four more hectares. I already produce cocoa, cupuaçu, and açaí; now, I want to add oil palm and black pepper.”
Many farmers realized that they had already been practicing agroforestry without identifying it as such. “I produce açaí, cocoa, cupuaçu, pepper, and other crops, in smaller quantities,” said Edilson Andrade da Silva. “We also do a bit of reforestation. But until this workshop, nobody had explained agroforestry to us. We were doing it by ourselves.”
Maria Patrícia Araújo de Souza shared a similar experience and noted how the workshop had piqued her curiosity to advance her knowledge. “I want to know more about reforestation, I find it very interesting,” she said. “I love nature and reforestation – so much so that we do not touch the forest on our land. It is well preserved.”
Accelerating agroforestry and restoration
During the workshop, CIFOR-ICRAF and TNC also presented the Agroforestry Accelerator and Restoration project, which they are carrying out in partnership with funder Amazon. The Accelerator aims to offer new economic opportunities to family farmers in Pará through the validation, verification, and issuance of high-quality carbon credits from the implementation of agroforestry systems (AFs) and ecological restoration areas.
All agricultural production from AFs will serve as a source of fixed income for small producers. The farming families will have the opportunity to codesign the system to be implemented in their properties and choose among a variety of species, such as cocoa, cupuaçu, oil palm, and açaí.
Like other projects to foster sustainable practices, the Accelerator will rely on local partnerships, both with farmers’ representatives and public and private institutions that have initiatives with these families. As such, during the event, three representatives of family farmers were elected to join the project’s advisory board. The farmers chose Adriana Evangelista Moraes, Antônio Vieira dos Santos, and Elizete Moreira Sousa to represent them on the state council, which will hold regular meetings in Belém, Pará’s capital.
The council exists to ensure that actions are developed and managed based on continuous dialogue with farmers and local institutions, such as cooperatives, associations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations. “We have ambitious goals of engaging 3,000 family farmers in Pará, so it is essential to establish these partnerships,” said Andrew Miccolis, CIFOR-ICRAF’s coordinator for Brazil. “We want to positively influence public and private policies to become increasingly aligned with agroforestry systems, agroecology, and family farming.”
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