Brazil’s Northern and Northeastern regions suffer the most with territorial conflicts opposing environmentalists, which often put at risk the life of members of local communities. Owing to poor education and lack of technical training, many rural families tend to neglect the impacts of their production activities on the environment, damaging the water courses, soil and forests with slash-and-burn and other practices; this in turn increases food insecurity, since it drastically reduces overall productivity
Towards a Solution
The EMBRAPA crop-livestock-forest integration system, also known as the ILPF system, is a sustainable development practice for the production of crops in small spaces in coexistence with livestock and forests. The Brazilian approach to international cooperation in the field aims to promote the dissemination and adaptation of the methods of the ILPF system to local demands of other countries. The ILPF system, which integrates activities of agriculture, pastoralism and forestry and contributes to the reduction of the degradation of the Brazilian Caatinga ecosystem, aims to ensure production stability, increase the productivity of the land, ensure proper employability in the field, and create means for achieving economic and environmental sustainability.
The aim is to use rural proprieties for several activities either at the same time, in succession or in rotation, with technologies that enable the distribution of benefits among them: of the total space, 20 per cent is dedicated to agriculture, 60 per cent is dedicated to livestock and 20 per cent remains as protected forests. This minimizes the impacts of soil degradation, boosting productivity in a non-harmful manner and promoting education and capacity-building for rural communities to improve awareness of environmental issues. The ILPF system, in its various modalities, is being adopted at different levels of intensity in the Brazilian biomes, and estimates from 2015 and 2016 point to an adoption area of 11.5 million hectares. The fostering network involves the transposition of this system, through public-private partnerships, to new localities, focusing especially on the LAC and Africa regions. With the help of international financial institutions, large multinational companies and local governments, the ILPF system is gradually starting to be implemented in least developed countries, with the ultimate goal of creating a an internationally recognized certificate for the application of the principles of the system abroad.
According to EMBRAPA, the initiative also requires a good approach in terms of public relations and cross-country or cross-province exchange of experiences. The preparation of the area for agriculture is made in the dry period (summer), starting with the thinning of the caatinga woody vegetation, preserving the riparian forest of streams and springs and about 200 trees per hectare. In the area intended for livestock, woody vegetation is cleared while preserving about 400 trees per hectare as well as riparian forests. EMBRAPA, in its Southeastern Livestock branch, received 16 African farmers from Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Togo in mid-2018, with the promotion of activities to introduce foreign producers to the ILPF system and raise awareness of the positive impacts of environmental actions, which can lead to soil protection and increase productivity.
As a Brazilian public policy, ILPF stands as part of a larger agenda. It is implemented with government engagement, complemented by the support of agribusinesses and rural communities in an attempt to transform large-scale production into a more sustainable activity, avoiding criticism from green organizations. It is essential to implement a set of communication strategies and actions that can more effectively support the technology transfer network and contribute to expanding the adoption of the systems of the programme by the productive sector as well as a set educational actions in the form of an integrated and continuous training programme on its practices. Ultimately, the South-South cooperation that involves the ILPF fostering network enables the use of this good practice in multiple contexts, ensuring general support, internationally and domestically, for both the initiative and its derivatives.