Agroforestry

Agroforestry

Agroforestry

Agroforestry development is the second branch of the ACRAA tree. We feel this science must be part of forest restoration efforts in the amazon, as forests that can sustain families and communities are needed to address food and economic security locally and regionally. Some, as in a recent article in the Guardian, have gone as far as to say that larger-scale reforestation (such as, for example, areas under soya cultivation in the amazon region) – without agroforestry development, will put global food security at risk. See Guardian article here.

It must be noted however, and this point was not mentioned in this Guardian article – that much of the worlds grain and soya production is used to feed livestock in INDUSTRIAL meat production. If overall, globally, people consumed a more plant-based diet – less agricultural land under such monoculture production would be required.

A basic definition of “agroforestry” is farming systems whereby trees and shrubs specifically selected for their ability to produce food, wood or other wanted products, are incorporated with agricultural crops and/or animals in a spatial and/or temporal manner (note that shade is also a valuable function of trees in agroforestry systems). The benefits of such systems over purely “un-treed” agricultural production are numerous, and include increased biological and economic resiliency, increased biodiversity, and carbon sequestration and storage. Incorporating trees into agricultural systems can also improve soil fertility and help heal degraded lands. See how here.

At ACRAA we have already started our work in the area of Agroforestry Development through the production of now hundreds of seedlings (and more coming) of over thirty different species. These are mostly fruit bearing trees, but also trees that produce timber for construction (an important component of agroforestry systems), as well as other plants such as for medicinal use. We have also already started to provide these seedlings to landowners (free of charge) to encourage what we are calling Micro-Agroforestry Development; this one of our ongoing projects. See Micro-Agroforestry Development here.

Looking further down the road we do have a larger vision for agroforestry development in the Alter do Chão area. We must therefore define what we ultimately mean by Agroforestry in the context of the Amazon.

First, our vision of Agroforestry encompasses the same sentiments and philosophies with respect to caring for the land and preserving biodiversity as do disciplines such as Regenerative Agriculture (a), Permaculture (b), and Syntrophic Farming (c). For us here in the Amazon, this too means systems with trees and shrubs forming a dominant component of the vegetative cover; these areas will be be a forest. These systems will produce a wide range of products, many types of fruits and nuts, and even some timber. Traditional farm animals, such as chickens, pigs and cows, will be part of the system – important as a source of high value protein (milk, meat, eggs), but also of organic fertilizer for gardens (manure). There will be an allowance for a pasture component, but this will be small. Food-security and self-sufficiency for the “community” we want to see develop there, will be strived for. And the development of specific high value forest crops, such as cacao, spices, nuts and exotic oils will contribute to the economic viability. The Amazon has much to offer the world.

Ultimately, to design and develop such an agroforestry system ACRAA will need access to a larger area of land, such as through the purchase of soya acreage. We feel that through a synergy of potential revenue-generating tools, as explained in the ACRAA Forest Reserve / Model Agroforestry Research Farm section, such a project could be viable. See here.

a) Regenerative Agriculture. See here.

b) Permaculture. See here.

c) Syntrophic Farmimg. See here.

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