From Alternative Agriculture to the Brazilian Policyfor AgroecologyProf. Irene Maria Cardosoirene@ufv.brcentro detecnologiasalternativasZONA DA MATACenter for Alternative Technologies of Zona da MataFederal University of ViçosaSoil Science DepartmentBrazilian Association for Agroecology
1. Agroecology as a movement, practice and science.2. Experiences of agroecology in the Zona da Mata.3. Brazilian policy for agroecology and organic production.4. Can agroecology feed the world? Are we asking the correct question?5. The Netherlands is part of our problem. Is it part of our solution?IntroductionSoybean production in the CerradoAgroecological production in Atlantic Forest
1.1. Agroecology is a movement In Brazil, in the end of 70´s and 80´s agroecology started asalternative agriculture. Alternative agriculture as a response to the environmental andsocial problems created by the Green Revolution technologiesapplied to agriculture. Main actors:a) agronomists (linked to the Federation of the AgronomistAssociations and the Federation of the Students of Agronomy,still very active);1. Agroecology as movement, practice and science
b) NGOs and farmer organizations (supported by the LiberationTheology – Grassroot Eclesial Communities – CEBs, linked mainly tothe Catholic Church).Linked to the left-wing parties – especially the Labor Party(founded in 1980).c) These NGOs formed the network called Rede PTA – Projects forAlternative Technologies. The network finished in the end of the 90´s. 2002. The ex-Rede PTA and the social movement, founded theNational Articulation of Agroecology (ANAwww.agroecologia.org.br) – a network especially among NGOs,social movements, and also scientists.
It shows that, in Brazil, agroecology started as a movement! But this movement had and has the farmers and theirorganizations as partners. It means that the movement has its roots in practicalexperiences. In Brazil agroecology is developed with thefarmers!II National Meeting of Agroecology – 2006III National Meeting of Agroecology in prep. – 2014. Probably in São Paulo.
1.2. Agroecology is a practice To manage biodiversity and to develop complexagroecosystems we need farmer´s knowledge For agroecology:- A participatory approach is essential.- On-farm experiments are very important.- To respect and to value farmer´s knowledge is imperative!(This is very important to raise the farmer´s self esteem)
www.agroecologiaemrede.org.br: 709 experiences are registered.We have practical experiences in all Brazilian biomes
From the Zona da Mata, 21 experiences are registered in thatwebsite, but we have several hundreds!It is a practice!Santa Fé Farm: ourslogan isagroecology!
These experiences and the movement that started in the 80´s,as alternative agriculture are the basis of the national policythat we are formulating now. Some of these experiences have been developed by CTA inpartnership with the farmers organizations and staff of theFederal University of Viçosa. CTA was part of the Rede-PTA andis very active in ANA.
1.3. Agroecology is ALSO a science Agroecology is shortly defined as the science to study, design andmanage agroecosystems.- Consumers are also included. Nowadays, the definition ofagroecology is towards a larger focus on the entire food system,deﬁned as a global network of food production, distribution andconsumption (Gliessman, 2007).- However, agroecology does not study only food systems, but alsothe production of energy, wood and fibers. BUT food comes first!- Moreover, there are boundaries among agroecosystems and amongagroecosystems and the natural ecosystems.
2004. On the scientiﬁc side, the Brazilian Association ofAgroecology (ABA) was created (http://www.aba-agroecologia.org.br). ABAis part of ANA In 2006, agroecology was oﬃcially recognized as a science byEMBRAPA - the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation. Thereferential benchmark for agroecology was published:(http://www.embrapa.br/publicacoes). Recently, several technical, undergraduate and graduate courseson agroecology started in several universities, theses have beendeveloped, papers published…
Therefore, in Brasil, agroecology is a movement, a practice and ascience. This is supported by Wezel et al., 2009. Agron. Sustain. Dev.(available on line).
2. Some of the experiences in the Zona da MataFoto: CTA
Atlantic Rainforest BiomeThe atlantic rainforest ranks among the top five biodiversity hotspots(Myers et al. 2000).• Nowadays: around 7% of it remains.• One of the reasons: agricultureWhy to usemonoculturein such abiodiversebiome?
Main land use: full-sun coffee and pasture in monoculture.Managed mainly by family farmers.forest fragments…Coffeepasturesforest fragments…
Following the agroecological principles, CTA in partnership withUFV and small farmers organizations in Zona da Mata,developed agroforestry systems, using a participatory approach.
1993 - a Participatory Rural Apraisal (PRA) process wasundertaken in Araponga (municipality of Zona da Mata). One of the biggest problems pointed out by the farmers was theloss of soil quality – “enfraquecimento das terras”.Agroforestry Systems
The farmers prioritized land use problems and selected acommittee called “terra forte” (strong land) composed of farmers,staff of the NGO and the Soil Department/UFV to present someland conservation proposals to overcome the problem.Foto: arquivos do CTA
The committee suggested several practices.- Most of them common to the farmers:Ex.: green manure; management of spontaneousvegetation.- One not common to the farmers: agroforesty systemsAround 40 experiences (~40 family farmers), in 11 municipalities(Cardoso et al., 2001 – Agricultural Systems, 69: 235-257)Agroforestry in Zona da Mata started in 1994
Why are trees so important?- Better use of the environment: above and below groundcoffeeIncrease mycorrhizal network indeeper layer of the soilSome trees are leguminosae:rhizobium symbiosis
- Attract more associated biodiversity: birds, bees etc.Associated biodiversity is responsible for many ecosystem servicesWhy are trees so important?Photo:ArneJanssen
In the green revolution type of agriculture, the ecosystemservices (nutrient cycling, pest controls, soil structure etc.)were replaced by chemical fertilizers, tillage and pesticides. The replacement of the environmental services by chemicals iskey to understanding why agriculture, instead of benefiting,harms biodiversity. You can decide to be dependent on the biodiversity or on theindustries that produce the external inputs (such as chemicalsand pesticides).
We collected 287 arthropods feeding onextrafloral nectaries of Inga trees. Almost 80%of the visitors were natural enemies.Among them, seven different species ofparasites of the coffee leafminer.Rezende et al., in prep.Extrafloral nectaries: small pots ofnectar in the petiolesA thrips species was foundvisiting extrafloral nectaries. Thethrips was also observed feedingon coffee berry borers. This wasnever reported before.Inga leaves
From 2003 to 2005, CTA, farmers and the Soil Departmentsystematized the experience with the agroforestry systems, using aparticipatory approach (Souza et al., 2012 - Agroforestry Systems 85: 247-262)..- Farmers were visited and interviewed andwe organized several meetings with thefarmersMeeting at CTAMeeting in the communityMeeting at the UniversityInterview
Pasture with treesDuring the systematization, we concentrated on agroforestry coffeesystems. But we also have experiences with pasture and trees.
A diversified tree stratum(native trees and fruittrees); A bush stratum (coffee andothers – fruit trees); A herbaceous stratum,(leguminosae, spontaneousvegetation, edible plantsetc).Agroforestry coffee systems
The farmers pointed out the criteria to selected the trees tointercrop with coffeeSouza et al., 2010. Agroforestry Systems 80: 1-16
(sampling root of S. macranthera forLoes Mertens, to screen for mycorrhiza)How to avoid competition for water and nutrients?Rhizosphere: fine roots of coffee concentrated in the top 20 cm ofthe soil; fine roots of Senna macranthera found below 40 cm.60 cmS. macranthera
How to avoid competition for light withoutpruning?Coffee is from deciduous forest inEthiopia. Coffee needs more light exactlywhen the trees loose their leaves.We are in a region of semi-evergreenforest.It means that some of our trees loose theirleaves in the dry season, exactly whencoffee needs more light. Thus, no need forpruning the crown of those trees – it meansless labour.With full sun coffee we are not benefingfrom the characteristics of our native treesand coffee plants.Aegiphila sellowiana:deciduous species from theAtlantic Forest
The farmers pointed out 85 tree species compatible with coffee,which can be used in the agroforestry systems. Among them, Sennamacranthera and Inga subnuda (Souza et al. 2010, Agroforestry Systems80: 1-16).
Souza et al., 2010Which system produces more food? Agroforestry or full sun coffee?And more profit? On average less coffee, but...DD
PollinizationFloristic studiesSoil qualityErosionNutrient cyclingSince the beginning these COMPLEX systems have been studied,nowadays more intensely.
We studied senescent materials of some species. Inga subnuda andSenna macranthera had the highest content of nutrients. However,Inga produced more recalcitrant litter (highest (LG+PP)/N and LG/Nratios). Therefore, lower decomposition rate (Duarte et al., in press).Senna macranthera floweringThe residues of Senna release the nutrientsfaster than those of Inga.
Inga gives more soil protection than Senna.Residues of Inga subnuda
Therefore, to profit from Inga and Senna, we have to have both inthe systems: biodiversity! BUT Inga and Senna are only two of the85!Mix of leaves and fruits of Inga and Senna in agroforestry coffee systemsFruit of SennaFruit of Inga
We do our best to study and to scale up the systemstogether with the family farmers and their organizations!
We are following, with adapation, the methodology calledpeasant to peasant (Rosset et al., 2011), we promote meetingswith the farmers on their properties, to observe and analyse theirecosystems.Besides the family farmers, students, researchers, agronomists,professors attend these meetings
In these meetings,everybody learns. From these meetingsarises the demands ofthe farmers andquestions of theresearchers; We also answersresearch questions.
Once per year we have a regional meeting with farmers at theUniversity. More than 200 farmers attend these meetings.
If everything is so nice, why don’t we have more farmers involved? To scale up these experiences is the main challenge nowadays(De Schutter, 2011 - Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the rightto food, United Nations). For that, appropriate public policies are necessary. The policiescan create an enabling environment for such sustainable modesof production (De Schutter, 2011).What is happening in this respect in Brazil? In 2011, during the discussion of the New Forest Code theEnvironmental Ministry and ANA (National Articulation forAgroecology) started talking about the national policy foragroecology.3. Brazilian policy for agroecology and organic production
2012. The Marcha das Margaridas (The Peasant Womendemonstration in Brasília) asked Dilma (our presidenta) to launchthe national policy for agroecology – she agreed.Foto usada em cartaz da Contag. Cedido por Sara Pimenta
We solve political problemswith a political decision, notwith a technical or with ascientific solution.DILMA (our presidenta) talking to the women!Foto: arquivos da Contag. Cedido por Sara PimentaFoto: arquivos da Contag. Cedido por Sara Pimenta
Because of the experiences all around Brazil, ANA was invited to giveinputs to the national policy for agroecology and organic production.For ANA to give their inputs, the environmental ministry supported:Five regional meetings – according to our main biomes – and anational meeting. More than 300 people participated in the sixmeetings. These people were representativeof the social movement (Landless, Unions,Women, ABA, ANA etc). A document was produced. A seminar was organized to deliver and todiscuss the document with the government.
The government elaborated a first draftof the policy.Another seminar was organized todiscuss the draft.August 2012: the policy was launched.One good point: recognize and supportthe use of landrace seeds.Two bad points: disconsider the landconcentration and water controlsproblems.“The only thing that I want is a small piece of land to produce food! I am crazy about havinga small piece of land” (coffee sharecropper from Araponga - Brazil
(IBGE, 2006)Total of farms: 4367902 Total AreaFamily FarmersOther farmersFamilyFarmersOther farmersFamily agriculture receives only 25% of the credits,produces 70% of our food!Family Agriculture x Industrial Agriculture in Brazil
With the policy, the way was paved, but the process did not stop.Only the law is no garantee for actions and money.The policy has to be followed by a national plan for agroecologyand organic production. To formulate the plantwo comittees werecreated.a) Comittee formed by thegovernment staff:Four ministries areinvolved (to elaboratethe plan).
b) Comittee formed by the civil society:26 participants from 23 organizations, among them Landless, RuralUnions, Women movement, ABA, ANA...) - to evaluate and giveinputs to the plan.- We are working on the plan now; we hope to launch it in April.This is the first time thatthe social movements aregetting together toformulate an agro-ecological policy.This is already considereda good result of thepolicy.Foto: secretaria da presidência
Remember: from 30-50% of the produced food is lost (Institution ofMechanical Engineers, UK). Remember: a food system is deﬁned as a global network of foodproduction, distribution and consumption (Gliessman, 2007). I will quickly give you an example to illustrate why I think we arenot asking the right question4. Can agroecology feed the world? Are we asking the correctquestion?
AmazonAtlantic ForestCerradoCerrado14th hotspot of biodiversity (Myers et al., 2000).A biodiverse savanna ecoregion (Brannstrom et al., 2008). The size of Spain,France, Germany, Italyand UK together (WWF,2012). This biome is in rapiddecline because of theexpansion of modernagriculture (Brannstrom etal., 2008). Since 1950, 40% of the cerrado was converted to agriculture(WWF, 2012).
Maize (24%)Soybeans (35%)Sugar-cane (12%)Others (13%)IBGE (2007)MonocultureMonocultureCultivated area - BRAZIL
82% of the soybeans is produced in Mato Grosso, Goiás (bothcerrado), Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul (both Atlantic Forest).Most soybeans are exported. Most soybeans are genetically modified (GMO). Soybeans account for 45% of the pesticide consumption.
Via Campesina campaign against theuse of pesticides in BrazilOn average we consume around 5litres of pesticides per year perperson.Lucas do Rio Verde is a municipalityin Mato Grosso, where the mainacitivity is agriculture, especiallysoybeans. Mothers‘ milk iscontaminated with pesticidesPesticide killsUntil when will we swallow this?
The Netherlandsis our secondimporter ofsoybeans (46%).Mainly for foodfor the animals. To produce soybeans, we need fertilizer. Brazil imports around70% of N and 50% of P. More than 90% of the K. Is our agriculturesustainable? Is the Dutch agriculture sustainable? Some scientists are arguing that the source of P will finish in 50-100 years (Cordell et al., 2009: Global Environmental Change 19: 292–305).Our main source of P is Maroc.5.1. The Netherland is part of our problemAlso for cows – picture from The Netherlands – Jan 2013Photo: Ana Paula CamposPhoto: Ana Paula Campos
Thus:Maroc Brazil The NetherlandsP SoybeansWho is feeding whom? Is Maroc feeding Brasil or The Netherlands?Feed animals, including cowsSoybeansProduce cheese In our supermaket, the Dutch cheese is 20 reals less expensivethan the same type of cheese from Brasil. The farmers of Minas Gerais can not sell their cheese: producedwith unpasteurized milk (as in France...) Are we really worried about feeding the world????
Is it a matter of production to feed the world or to feed the foodempire?Who has to feed whom?Is it a task of The Netherlands to feed the world? (Such a smallcountry!)Is it a task of Brazil to feed the world? (Such a big country!)How about food security and sovereignty? Is it not better to work foreach country to feed itself?
Family Agriculture produces 70% of the food that reaches theBrazilian tables!If it is a matter of food security and food sovereignty, should weBrazilians invest in soybeans to export?(IBGE, 2006)
5.2. Can The Netherlands be part of our solution? China (18%) is the first importer of Brazilian agriculturalproducts. The Netherlands is second (6,3%). Together with Belgium, it imports more than 80% ofour orange juice (produced in the Atlantic forestbiome) Important importer of our coffee (Atlantic forestbiome)Conclusion: you Dutch are eating our cerrado and drinking our AtlanticForest!
Dutch organizations comprimised themselves to invest € 7 millionsto garantee that 100% of soy used in the food production in TheNetherlands will be produced in a responsible way by 2015 (WWF,2012). What is a responsible way????
I also believe in Sinterklaas!http://www.responsiblesoy.org/Birds do not use any protective equipment!
You cannot solve the problem with the same kind of thinkingthat created the problemAlbert EinsteinI would like to ask the Dutch Scientists of Wageningen University:Please, reformulate your questions!Is it really a matter of feeding the world?
BedanktThank you!Obrigada!“For agroecology we need wisdom to work and patience to wait...”Dadinho (agroecological farmer – Pedra Dourada – Minas Gerais).Farmer´sOrganizations