Unesco Green Citizens

Sustainable Cupuaçu in the Amazon

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Project begin: 01/02/2017

In the past 30 years, nearly 1,000,000 km2 of Amazonian forest has been destroyed. The local communities of Bela Aurora and Santa Luzia are restoring the forest, by planting local species, like the Cupuaçu. By following the principles of agroforestry, they turned the forest into a sustainable source of both food and income. With support from the local NGO Instituto Beraca, they are preserving the Amazonian biodiversity, transferring knowledge on sustainable agroforestry from one community to the other.

The project was conceived on three missions: to protect; to explore; to educate. These missions were the guiding elements for the construction of the project’s objective and action areas, which have the following propositions:
PROTECT – Main element of the project that aims to protect the Amazon biome from the restoration of degraded areas through the implementation of agroforestry systems (SAF) in Bela Aurora Community. The project foresaw the planting of 3,000 feet of cupuaçu (in addition to other Integrated species) in the expectation of a production of around 6 tons of seeds in 3-4 years. The strategy adopted to achieve this objective is to transfer technology between family farmers in the community of Bela Aurora and the community of Santa Luzia, in Tomé Açu, which has a history of production in SAFs.
EXPLORE – The pillar aims to systematize and disseminate knowledge from the project’s learning and results, through scientific publications, congresses, etc.
EDUCATE – Consists on conducting workshops with children and young people from the Bela Aurora community, seeking to reinforce the element of environmental education in SAF cultures. This formal moment aims to help develop a more theoretical and critical perception of reality, focusing on the role of human beings in nature, the dynamics of trees in the forest and the importance of preserving biodiversity to maintain the balance of the biome. Within the initiatives aimed at implementing the SAFs, Six training workshops were planned, which involve activities to raise awareness of the importance of restoring degraded areas, preserving the environment and agro-ecological production with family farmers in Bela Aurora.


Leading organisation: Beraca Institute for Sociobiodiversity
Covered Countries: Brazil
Theme: Biodiversity, Education for Sustainable Development
Sub-themes: Agriculture, Food and food security, Forests and desertification, Forests and desertification, Participatory science/citizen science, Rural areas, Sustainable lifestyles
Selection: 2020
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Project needs
Equipment supply
Logistical support
Monitoring and evaluation
Sponsorship/ Philanthropy

Initial Problem

Deforestation is the main threat to the Amazon biome. In the past 30 years, nearly 1,000,000 km2 of the forest has been cleared to make way for pasture areas and soybean crops. This staggering number corresponds to about 17% of the original size of the forest and is very close to the resilience of the biome. The change in the rain cycle, in the Amazon itself and even in other areas of the continent, is one of the effects caused by deforestation. In the years 2005, 2010 and 2015/16 more intense and prolonged droughts hit the region. With the worsening droughts, the risk of natural fires increases, and some climatological models already point to the of transforming the forest to savannah.
Beraca Institute for Sociobiodiversity believes that it is extremely urgent to revert this situation by recovering the degraded habitat and developing actions that ensure the restoration of the forest and the maintenance of the remaining standing forests.
Said that, the implementation of Agroforestry Systems (SAFs) acts exactly in these two focuses. SAFs are great alternatives to restore forests and recover degraded areas, since the use of tree species allows the recovery of several ecological functions and restores many interactions between plants and animals. In addition, it enables economic gains with the forest standing, maintaining a healthy balance between production and conservation.

The positive impacts that the project has made

Nowadays, the project has 2,656 cupuaçu seedlings planted in a territory that covers 11.85 hectares. Considering the data from Embrapa (2012), the project will produce an average of 77tons of fruit per harvest (29 kg per plant). For Embrapa, the BRS Carimbó variety can produce 1kg of dried almonds for every 6.9 fruits and each plant can produce up to 18 fruits. This means that the project has a production capacity of up to 6,905 kg of dry almonds generating a potential of R$ 15,200.00 per harvest (dry almond value R $ 2.20 /kg).
Besides the Cupuaçu, the project has planted 2,288 açaí seedlings, 950 cocoa seedlings and 710 forest species. 
The seedling nursery was an important activity that represents the result of the group formation process. After two years working with their seedlings individually, they decided to carry out the construction of the seedling nursery, giving the collection a new style of work, as a group. And still inspiring in them the desire to develop their own nursery, which was the case of Valdi, who built a seedling nursery in his house, which has already earned him up to R $ 3,000.00 from the sale of native seedlings.
The exchange of experience between farmers is a differential for collective learning and for adherence to new technologies of agroecological transition. The language and the sharing of the same means of life and production brought the farmers closer together. In addition, the participatory methodologies used in the meetings valued collective actions, reviving the feeling of the collectivity of the group and in the quilombo.

The project also developed an organic kitchen garden as an extra activity. It was developed by a group of women in the community, with the potential to generate greater nutritional variability for Bela Aurora families, collaborating with food security, and also representing an alternative for productive inclusion for quilombo women, who can produce for consumption and sale of surpluses, generating savings and autonomy for women. 

The impacted areas and population

The project was developed in the Bela Aurora community, located on the border between the states of Pará and Maranhão and is part of the municipality of Cachoeira do Piriá, in the state of Pará, 250km from the capital Belém. In 2004, with 32 families residing in the territory, the community, area of traditional population, received titling by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA), and currently has 46 families that live from the practices of agriculture, fishing and extraction, in the 2,410 ha that form Bela Aurora quilombo.

The obstacles and challenges

Quilombola farmers, eager to learn and improve the quality of life, were willing to break away from old certainties (the habit of cutting and burning) and crops to undertake a project for the recovery of areas and productive handling of “capoeiras”. Breaking with traditional production techniques is not a fast process, on the contrary, it is a naturally slow process.
SAFs are not yet bringing them the returns they expect, however, the steps they are taking slowly and cautiously, are making the group become more solid.

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