Implement low cost agro-forestry restoration practices with fruit species to create more productive and climate resilient farming systems is the strategy the Adapta Sertao, a coalition of cooperatives , community based organizations is using. The idea is to support creation of fruit pulp small industries that will use fruits from restored forests to improve livelihoods in drylands and subhumid regions. The project will support creation of green jobs, female-friendly markets, restore degraded land back to productivity, potentially increase groundwater recharge, reduce poverty and increase biodiversity. Local communities and women leadership will drive the process of restoration and the cooperative work.
That idea started in the year of 2014 and will be implemented in 2015. The year of the soil. Native trees that produce fruits are very common in drylands Brasil. They are not used due to the lack of conditions to do so. In 2014, we have built with the help of the government a fruit pulp manufacture that can do the job.
Please help the project to take off. Your help will benefit the most underserve region of Brasil with the high levels of poverty that affect especially women and children.
Over the course of the last three months, Jarrod Russell, associate researcher at the University of California San Diego, participated in a series of programs connected to our project, Adapta Sertao. Here is the testimony of his experiences:
“I had the privilege of working within a collaborative that increases the climate resilience of subsistence farming communities in the Northeast of Brazil.
Pintadas is a small town in the state of Bahia, surrounded by smallholder subsistence farmers. This is naturally a dry land, located in the seemingly endless semi-arid region of Brazil - the Sertão. In an already difficult land, times are especially worrying given the crippling impacts of a lingering drought that arrived in late 2010 and has yet to subside. In addition, over the last 50 years, climate change research - including our own - shows that regional average temperature rose by 1.75 degrees Celsius and annual precipitation fell by 30%. However, despite its humble appearance and tough circumstances, social and environmental innovation is abuzz in the small town of Pintadas.
This past week, Pintadas hosted an event that made it the focal point of agricultural cooperativism for the surrounding territory of the Jacuípe Basin. The event organizer was Adapta Sertão, a coalition of research institutions and NGOs, which has worked in the region since 2006, and is now entering a new stage of project implementation. Adapta Sertão’s goals are timely, as they have the potential to increase the climate resilience of subsistence farmers in the region. This is being achieved through technological innovation (high-efficiency drip irrigation, balanced animal feed, and innovative crop varieties) as well as social innovation vis-à-vis the strengthening of local cooperatives as the hubs of best agricultural practices and the catalysts of community-level adaptations. Now, Adapta Sertão is expanding its irrigation initiative to include 300 subsistence farmers across the 14 municipalities of the Jacuípe Basin, and that is why I am here today.
The event was simple: a 3-day capacity-building session to coordinate the process of identifying and monitoring farmers that are to participate in Adapta Sertão’s new irrigation initiative. As a collaborative, we aim to measure smallholder farmers’ benefits from using these systems while simultaneously strengthening cooperativism in the region. A team needed to be assembled. A diverse group of 18 people from every corner of the Basin came together. They included youth just out of high school, cooperative leaders, and a secretary of agriculture. Their different life stories converged on one issue: we need to work together if we are to overcome the ever-increasing challenges of the semi-arid environment in which we all live in and depend upon.
All participants were immediately struck by the format of the event, which was interactive and inclusive, rather than a read-this-manual and lecture format. We worked as a team to contextualize our efforts and identify our dreams. We contextualized our efforts within the challenges of an unpredictable climate being exacerbated by local deforestation and global climate. We identified our dream as the development of flourishing communities resilient to – even reversing – the aforementioned climatic impacts.
As the event came to a close, the sense of partnership and collective action we cultivated was readily apparent in the exchanges of our concluding remarks. In the spirit of collaboration, we built a team. This team, I am confident, has been empowered with a vision to strengthen their communities and build resilient livelihoods, within and beyond the confines of this project. I was lucky to be a part of the process. Therefore, I encourage you to support this team’s efforts, as your contributions will make a lasting positive impact on the lives of countless subsistence farming families in the region.”
The semi arid region of Brazil today is affected by the worst drought in 40 years. In many regions, there has been no rainfall at all for over 9 months. In other regions, rainfall has reach minimum level of 200 mm over the past year compared to long-term average of 600 to 800 mm/year. Over 500 municipalities have declared “state of calamity” and started receiving government subsidies after an in-situ evaluation from government officials. The subsidies are used mostly to distribute water coming from areas very far away through trucks and to distribute food to the population and for the animal. Cattle is dying very quickly and farmers are loosing a lot of money - 100% of their harvest is gone this year. So the situation is very critical. People started moving out of the region, at least temporarily, looking for jobs in urban areas. Some assessments point out that this could just be the beginning because to get out of this emergency state, the region needs quiet a lot of heavy rains to fill up the reservoirs. This is something that happens over months or years. Today finding solutions to limit the socioeconomic impacts of the drought in the semi-arid region of Brazil has become a key priority for all 9 states that compose the semi-arid region (Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte e Sergipe). Apparently the state that is most hit by the drought is Bahia, where the Adapta Sertao project is located. Many news and videos can be found (in Portuguese) on the web through search engines using the following keywords “seca nordeste 2012”
Adapta Sertao has organized a Civil Society Forum - Water Forum, Pintadas, 24th and 25th of May 2012:
Objective of the meeting: about 150 participants were invited to participate in a Water Forum to discuss the heavy drought that is affecting the region and try to find political support to develop long-term solutions. It was clear from the discussions that climate change is not included at all in the policy making mechanisms. Unfortunately policy makers seem to focus on the situation only in periods of calamities and find solutions that are not structural. A main concerned that was expressed during the forum is that when eventually the situation goes back to normality, also the policy making engine turns off and gets again disconnected from the reality. The key point is that the situation that today is affecting the region could become the baseline scenario by the end of the century due to climate change. The result would be an aridification of the region that from semi-arid would become arid or even desert in some parts.
The water forum was organized to identify specific requests from civil society and local farmers and community organizations of the Bacia do jacuipe county where Pintadas is located (250,000 people). The objective was to bring these requests to policy makers of the Bahia state in July of 2012.
The main objetive of Adapta Sertao is to help small farmers to cope with droughts in the semi-arid regions of Brazil. The project landed at 4 elementary schools in the municipality of Pintadas. The objective was to help children strengthening the connection with the environment in which they live. It was also to improve their diet and love for what the earth can provide them. The action consisted in creating vegetable gardens at the schools and help the teachers to associate the work in the garden with the content of the disciplines such as language, geography, science and maths.
The result of the action was very encouraging as children , teachers and parents got involved with the installation of irrigation systems as well as the planting of vegetables and harverting.
In 2012 we hope to get funding to do the vegetable gardens in at least 5 more schools. Any amount given will be used for that purpose, that ultimately will improve nutrition.
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