To support the strengthening of production systems and family farming, this project is developing model agroforestry systems as a viable production alternative to mitigate hunger and climate change in Brazil. They can also increase income and improve the social conditions and quality of life of producers, especially if they are developed in a participatory way in each region.
Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. It contributes to numerous problems, such as growing hunger, challenges for food production (to sustain around 10 billion people by 2050) and the need to contain the global temperature rise below 2°C. Currently, agriculture, forestry and other land uses account for 21% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and unsustainable agricultural practices and deforestation contribute even more to these emissions.
Faced with the need to strengthen sustainable production systems, in July 2023 Fundo Vale began a partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, Embrapa. The “Agroforestry Systems for Climate and Hunger Mitigation” project aims to train technicians and family farmers to help spread and expand the adoption of model agroforestry systems, which can help conserve soil and water, increase organic matter, expand carbon fixation in species management and yield other environmental benefits, while resulting in more resilient and sustainable agriculture in light of climate change.
Accordingly, each model agroforestry system has the function of not only producing food in different functional groups, but also producing sufficient quantity and quality to serve farming families, meeting their nutritional needs, on a production scale to market products in line with regional market potential and characteristics, while helping cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The partnership with Embrapa will also support the impact businesses encompassed by Vale’s 2030 Forest Goal (specifically, the goal’s component aimed at restoring 100,000 hectares) through training, technical visits and monitoring of financial, social and environmental indicators, using the Amazonsaf tool: developed by EMBRAPAa, based on the model agroforestry systems developed in the project.
According to Embrapa researcher Marcelo Arcoverde, “These model agroforestry systems are designed in line with the reality of local producers, their markets, production capacity, nutritional needs, specific soil and climatic conditions and productive aptitudes, together with financial and technical analysis of their viability. They are an important way of promoting sustainable regional development, planning collective needs, and identifying costs and revenues related to production. They also make it possible to estimate the resulting social benefits from supporting the necessary activities.”
Thus, the aim of Fundo Vale’s partnership with Embrapa is to improve the quality of life of the people who live in and from the forest. “We want to help take Brazil off the hunger map and act directly to combat the climate crisis. In other words, it’s a methodology for fighting hunger combined with climate and socioeconomic issues,” says Liz Lacerda of Fundo Vale’s partnerships team.
Efficient agroforestry systems
Agroforestry systems are proven ways to adapt to the climate crisis. According to Arcoverde, “They improve small farmers’ resilience through more efficient use of water, a better microclimate, greater soil productivity and nutrient cycling, superior pest and disease control, higher agricultural productivity and diversification, and increased agricultural income, while at the same time sequestering carbon and contributing to climate adaptation and mitigation.”
“Efficient agroforestry systems, taking into account the circumstances of local producers, are fundamental for promoting sustainable regional development, planning collective needs, and identifying costs and revenues related to production. Furthermore, they make it possible to estimate the resulting social benefits based on support for the necessary activities,” says Lacerda.
Why is Fundo Vale supporting this initiative?
The “Agroforestry Systems for Climate and Hunger Mitigation” project is directly aligned with Vale’s 2030 Forest Goal commitment to recover 100,000 hectares of habitat, based on promoting and investing in agroforestry businesses with a positive social and environmental impact, linking the recovery of areas with income and employment generation and the conservation of natural resources with food production. As well as monitoring the Forest Goal’s portfolio companies, the project will carry out training in other locations, helping strengthen and disseminate sustainable production practices.