Every day, agricultural products wind up on tables and counters in Brazilian kitchens and living rooms. There are fruits, vegetables and grains –of various colors and flavors. These foods come from countless farms scattered throughout Brazil. Family farms are the primary source of food that reaches the tables of Brazilian families, accounting for approximately 70 percent of food consumed in the country in 2015. Family farmers are important actors in the productive chain for the main foods in the Brazilian market: cassava, beans, pork, milk, chicken and corn.
Beyond feeding millions of Brazilian families, farming is the main source of income for many families. For many families, the earnings generated by farming is the main source of monthly income. In economic terms, Brazil’s agriculture, along with livestock, constitutes a significant portion of national GDP. The agricultural sector creates jobs, produces food, generates wealth and promotes income distribution in the country.
And what is the wealth produced in rural areas? Brazil’s approach to farming extends beyond commercial boundaries and food production because rural areas also produce environmental services. These services translate into benefits that people obtain from ecosystems covering the supply of food, water production, climate regulation, soil formation, pollination, and recreational services, among others.
Conservation of the environment and all services provided by ecosystems is not yet an economically attractive activity to society, so that ecosystems are often abruptly converted into more profitable activities. These changes alter the land use and hinder the provision of basic environmental services for human survival. When agricultural activities are not managed properly, they can lead to serious problems of environmental degradation, such as erosion, pollution of waterways from overuse of pesticides, and loss of biodiversity, among others.
At present, some economic instruments are being used to help balance environmental conservation with productive activities. Economic instruments such as Payment for Environmental Services, Financing for Results and the Ecological VAT are already being used in some projects in Brazil and are generating positive results.
One example is the Sustainable Rural Development Project (Projeto Rural Sustentável), an initiative that offers small and medium farmers technical expertise and financial support to adopt sustainable methods. The purpose is to promote sustainable rural development by demonstrating farmers how to uptake low-carbon agriculture technologies to promote its adoption, recovering the productive potential of degraded agriculture land and restoring areas of legal maintenance of native vegetation. The project aims to increase the sustainability of agricultural production while preserving the environment; reducing the pressure for deforestation on new areas; reduce the emission of greenhouse gases; increase carbon stocks; conserve the biodiversity; and improve the livelihood of rural population.
|A second call to producers is now open and includes 70 municipalities. The use of these economic instruments promotes the recognition of farmers as important actors in the process of food production and the maintenance of environmental services within ecosystems. Moreover, these initiatives can promote balance between economic production and environmental conservation.|