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"Without the countryside there is no city"

14 March 2022, 11:10 GMT 4 min read

“Without the countryside there is no city”.

Climate Group recently brought together governments and experts to showcase results of its joint UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions) project: The Alliance for Regenerative Ranching in the Peruvian Amazon (AGRAP).

Having spent time working directly with farmers, governments and experts in states and regions that make up this area, this was an opportunity not just to share the results of the project, but to hear what people had learnt and discuss how this could be used in other parts of the world.

Uniting government, industry and civil society

65 people joined the webinar, including representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru.

The conversation opened with a brief introduction on regenerative livestock farming from Juan Esteban Serna - Expert Consultant in Silvopastoral Systems, WWF Peru. He was joined by a panel of high-level representatives from three Latin American governments:

  • Ethel Huamán, Specialist in the General Directorate of Livestock Development at the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (MIDAGRI), Peru 
  • Raul Protázio, Deputy Secretary for the Environment in the Government of Pará, Brazil 
  • Juan Gabriel Merino, Coordinator of Sustainable and Deforestation-Free Production at PROAmazonía, Ecuador 

The panel shared their experiences of sustainable farming from across different regions of the Andean Amazon, with their discussions moderated by Cinthia Mongylardi – Director of the Forests and Indigenous Affairs Programme, WWF Peru.

The Amazon is facing one of the worst moments in its history.

Illegal logging, unchecked agricultural expansion, and natural resource exploitation is causing widespread deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon as well as across the wider region. This is putting unprecedented pressure on vulnerable ecosystems and threatening livelihoods and food production.

Scientists are now suggesting the Amazon may be approaching, or even has passed, a ‘tipping point’ beyond which it is not possible to return the rainforest to its previous state. With such a high profile climate issue close at hand, regions across Latin America have been keen to find solutions to reverse some of the damage done by harmful agricultural practices.

Finding sustainable solutions together

The AGRAP project, funded by UK PACT, and delivered in partnership with WWF, Climate Group, and the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA), has been rolled out in Madre de Dios precisely to address some of the ways in which Amazon regions are suffering.

Madre de Dios is in the Peruvian Amazon and deforestation here has been driven almost entirely by cattle farming. It has therefore been essential to look at ways of reducing pressure on soil, forests and water as part of strategic plans to end the chain of environmental damage.

AGRAP has been demonstrating the value of regenerative cattle ranching as an alternative way of farming that can restore soil health and reverse the impacts of deforestation: protecting and revitalizing surrounding ecosystems and making farming more sustainable.

The project has built technical capacity locally through the development of silvopastoral systems, which intersperse cattle farms with wooded areas to provide a buffer against environmental harm. These wooded areas help to protect local biodiversity as well as providing farmers with extra, diversified income from forest products.

Panellists shared several key learnings from the project

The panellists drew the following conclusions from their time working on AGRAP:

  • Silvopasture systems must prove their profitability and business viability. To do this traceability and certification practices need to be included. This will help to encourage farmers to make the switch.
  • Farmers need public and private sector support. For example, through financial incentives (e.g. access to credit, tax incentives, specialised credit lines) and complementary public policies (e.g. covering traceability and certification).
  • Gender, age, and culture must be considered. Traditionally, women are responsible for different farming activities compared to men, such as milking cows and making cheese. They also have greater household responsibilities, such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of their children. Likewise, older farmers are less likely to adopt new technologies and skills compared to younger farmers. It is important that these wider factors are considered, as they can prevent the uptake of new regenerative practices.
  • Soil health is fundamental: human life would not be possible without it. Today, more than ever, it is vital to bring degraded soils back to life and regenerative farming can be part of that solution.

These findings will form the basis of recommendations to roll out project findings to other parts of Latin America and will help Climate Group to identify new ways of working with members that reflect their needs and the needs of the local environment.

As Juan Esteban, Expert Consultant in Silvopasture Systems at WWF Peru, said in his opening remarks at the “Regenerative Livestock in the Andean Amazon: Exchange of Experiences” webinar: "without the countryside, there is no city”. Agricultural systems must be healthy and productive to support all people and to meet the needs of future generations.

 

The Alliance for regenerative ranching in the Peruvian Amazon project is funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, under UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions).