In an effort to protect critical areas of the Amazon and help Brazilian farmers grow soy more sustainably, Cargill has joined forces with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to expand its Responsible Soy project.
The conservation rules in the Amazon are some of the strictest in the world, reads the project website. Under the Brazilian Forest Code farmers must preserve forest on 80 percent of their land – even if it was cleared many decades before. Poorly defined property rights and a lack of government resources have meant it has been difficult to enforce.
Since its inception in 2004, the joint effort has already helped 383 farmers get evaluated by for compliance with conservation laws and have official environmental registration with the state government. Cargill only purchases from those farms that have obtained a CAR (Rural Environmental Registry certification).
With Cargill’s latest $3 million dollar grant, TNC will be able to expand pilot and test monitoring systems for environmental impacts beyond deforestation, such as pesticide use and water quality, as well as extending the initiative to reach farmers in the adjoining state of Mato Grosso.
“We are supporting the scale up of the project to help ensure that the world’s increasing appetite for soy is met through environmentally sustainable agriculture that protects the Brazilian Amazon,” said Paulo Sousa, business unit leader, Cargill Grain and Oilseeds Supply Chain, Brazil.
TNC will use the grant money to monitor deforestation using satellite imagery and field visits to detect any changes to land use and to help farmers meet forest code requirements. Additionally, it will provide on-the-ground assistance to enable farmers in the Santarem region to obtain a legally required license for rural activities, known locally as LAR. This will serve as an important model for the Para state government to expand its licensing efforts.
“We know that we will not create a sustainable planet unless we engage the private sector in new conservation solutions. Recent increases in deforestation in the Amazon are troubling proof of that,” said Marcio Sztutman, acting director for The Nature Conservancy’s Amazon program.
“We are working with Cargill to help farmers keep their trees standing and comply with the Brazilian Forest Code – a set of conservation rules in the Amazon that are among the strictest in the world. Besides helping Amazon farmers maintain the environmental balance on their farms, we are helping Cargill implement environmentally responsible sourcing decisions, piloting an effective model for others and most importantly, preserving the precious biodiversity of the Amazon.”
Image Credit: Flickr - bensutherland