Sementes do Portal (Portal Seeds)

PROJECT CONCLUDED IN 2013

Project management

Ouro Verde Institute (IOV)

Territorial scope

Seven municipalities that comprise the region known as the Portal of the Amazon, in the extreme north of the state of Mato Grosso: Apiacás, Alta Floresta, Carlinda, Nova Guarita, Nova Canaã do Norte, Terra Nova do Norte and Matupá

Beneficiary

Family farmers and the indigenous community Terena in the state of Mato Grosso

Objective

To foster the environmental recovery of 1,200 hectares of degraded areas (re-establishment of permanent protection areas and the legal reserve), besides bringing back value to family farming in six municipalities in the territory known as the Portal of the Amazon by disseminating agroforestry systems that bring together the sustainable use of the forest and the generation of income. In addition, the Terena indigenous community will be trained to collect seeds that will be used in agroforestry systems

Total cost of the project

R$ 5.397.778,87

Amazon Fund support

R$ 5.397.778,87                             (US$ 2.304.182,79)

Estimated completion date

36 months (from the date the contract was signed)

   

Progress of the project

 

Date approved

12.8.2009

Date awarded

3.25.2010

1st disbursement on 5.7.2010

R$ 654,750.00

2nd disbursement on 11.11.2010

R$ 680,000.00

3rd disbursement on 5.10.2011

R$ 755,900.00

4rd disbursement on 11.18.2011

R$ 1.031.960,00

5th disbursement on 8.20.2012

R$ 1,580,467.86

6th disbursement on 3.22.2013

R$ 459.493,15

Total amount disbursed

R$ 5.397.778,87

Total amount disbursed in relation to the Amazon Fund’s support

 100%

 Project manager’s site: www.ouroverde.org.br

CONTEXTUALIZATION

Occupation of land in the Amazon region mostly takes place in a disorganized and intense fashion by means of specific activities (timber extraction, gold digging, farming and cattle-raising), which temporarily generate value attracting the general population. In the region known as the Portal of the Amazon, located in the extreme north of the state of Mato Grosso, such occupation was no different, undergoing the three cycles of gold digging, timber extraction, as well as farming and cattle-raising.

Deforestation as a result of these activities has even compromised permanent preservation areas, harming environmental services rendered especially those related to water resources. In rural settlements, in general, there is a dire need for environmental diagnosis of occupied areas, for technical support, as well as for credit that can help farmers not only adopt farming practices that are more suitable to the region, but also learn to value and manage forest resources.

THE PROJECT

The Sementes do Portal (Portal Seeds) Project aims to recuperate degraded areas by structuring the social and technological bases that can help the family farmers involved fostering environmental recovery. This effort was developed in accordance with the discussion held in the state of Mato Grosso, entailing the recovery and reforestation of degraded areas (state plan to combat deforestation and burn-offs).

Using agroforestry systems (SAFs) to implement environmental recovery of degraded areas is aimed at, but not solely, helping properties meet environmental legislation; protecting and giving value to environmental services rendered throughout these areas, especially maintaining the water course; developing an economic alternative for activities on the properties; and strengthening food safety for families.

In the long-term, the project sought to strengthen another way to build relationships between farmers and their land by giving value to the forest, introducing not only concepts and techniques, such as “muvuca” (an agroforestry technique to implement mixed-seed planting and the management of several species of forest and farming seeds), but also discussions on alternatives to practices that damage the environment, such as burn-offs and the intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers.

As a complement, the project also seeks to foster the collection of native seeds as an important economic alternative in the region. This has resulted from implementing seed houses and strengthening a network of collectors who have shared technical and traditional know-how on the issue. The ethnic group Terena took part in this activity, as their area is well preserved and has many forest species that are rarely found in the region.

INTERVENTION LOGIC

Products and services

  • Participative planning for projects to environmentally recover properties, as well as monitoring implementation

  • Creating a base for technical services to provide support in implementing agroforestry systems

  • Capacity-building for rural producers, supplying inputs for planting in the agroforestry systems and fencing areas for recovery

  • Capacity-building for farmers and the Terena indigenous community to collect seeds and structuring communal seed houses 

Specific aims

  • To recover a 1,200-hectare area by means of agroforestry systems, contributing to the generation of income, meeting environmental, legal and quality requirements in small properties that are benefiting from the project

  • To foster forest product sectors with broader aggregate value by structuring and developing a market for forest seeds

General aim (impact)

  • To develop sustainable production activities in seven municipalities in the Portal of the Amazon (north region of the state of Mato Grosso)

ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED

The Sementes do Portal project was organized based on the five large groups of activities, including:

1) Implementing and running a participative management system

Activities were developed to guarantee the involvement of farmers and communities in managing the project. With this, in each community, the so-called management councils were structured, comprising representatives from the communities so that, through monthly meetings conducted by a technical team hired by the project, they could manage the established activities locally. There were three regional encounters to annually assess the project and its operational planning.

2) Structuring the environmental services base

This service base was set up by a team of advisors hired not only to accompany the technical aspects of the project (design of agroforestry projects), but also to engage communities to become actively involved in every phase. With this, eight people with experience in community organization and agroecology were hired to accompany the work. All advisors began living in the communities receiving the project, actively taking part in the community way of life in the locations.

3) Structuring environmental recovery projects

Within the project’s budget, the most significant effort involved agroforestry system planting. Throughout the duration of the project, which lasted slightly more than three years, some 1,246 hectares of degraded areas were incorporated into this method of planting, which started the recovery process.

4) Training program

Strategies for training played a crucial role in planning for Sementes do Portal. With this, a training course for environmental production and recovery was held, from which some 16 local community youths graduated. Besides this, there was an array of training activities in the communities, involving planning and managing agroforestry systems, and seed collection, amounting to more than 2,500 people trained throughout the project.

5) Design of communication materials

Among the materials structured, the newspaper Muvucando (10 editions produced, with the circulation of 1,500 copies per edition) was most probably the most important. Regionally distributed, its main aim was to unite the project, serving as an instrument for training and informing communities. Aimed at systematizing the entire experience acquired over these three years, three other materials were published: a booklet on the history of the project (Sprouting for life/Brotando para a vida), the Manual on producing saplings and the Manual for seed collectors.

INSTITUTIONAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ASPECTS

Sementes do Portal worked in partnership with three institutions: the Pastoral da Terra Commission, the Female Farmers Movement (Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas) and the Regional Community Association for the north of the state of Mato Grosso. These organizations played an important role, working as mobilization agents in their municipalities under their influence (Terra Nova do Norte, Nova Canaã do Norte and Nova Guarita, respectively), besides providing support for the general coordination of the project and dialogue with other institutions.

Management councils, comprising communities benefiting from the project, sought to create partnerships with local city councils. Those partnerships that developed were specific, yet important, to outlining the phases of the project, such as making transport to events feasible and supplying saplings.

INDICATORS OF RESULTS AND IMPACTS

Main indicators of the project:

- Recovered area with agroforestry systems

The target established by the project was to recover 1,200 hectares. Through the project, some 1,246 hectares of agroforestry system were implemented. As most areas undergoing recovery were planted in permanent preservation areas, which are legally protected, the chances of them being used for some other purpose in the future are slim.

- Recovered area used for economic purposes

Some 194 hectares were effectively recovered for economic purposes (of the total 1,246 hectares), since this is the area that is to be initially incorporated into a program aimed at commercializing the production.

- Revenue from seed sales

A total of R$ 1,548,142.64 (US$ 660,865.09) was received in seeds and saplings directly from farmers over the three years of work. This amount is expressive and motivated many families to join the efforts to collect seeds.

- Number of individuals involved in collecting seeds

In the year with the highest level of involvement, close to 300 people took part in collecting seeds.

- Number of families and people benefiting

The project Sementes do Portal ended its efforts with 1,246 hectares undergoing recovery (not including the areas that were discarded as unsatisfactory) on 518 properties. A total of 1,916 people (518 families), of which 1,053 were males (55%) and 863 were women (45%), benefited directly from the project’s efforts.

- Annual deforestation rate in municipalities where the project was developed, measured by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE)

Table 1 Deforestation rate in municipalities in the Portal of the Amazon (km²)         

Source: INPE

In Table 1, it is easy to see the annual deforestation in the municipalities where the project was developed, all of which are located in the extreme north of the state of Mato Grosso. It is important to point out that the activities carried out in the municipality of Matupá did not include reforestation or recovery of degraded areas, but rather seed collection conducted by the Terena indigenous community.

Analyzing the table, data shows a substantial fall in total deforestation as of 2006, due to the implementation of public policies aimed at combating this problem as of 2004. In the year previous to disbursements from the Amazon Fund, that is, in 2009, annual deforestation was at 38.5 km2 for the group of municipalities that then received benefits through the project. In 2012, average deforestation measured by INPE was at 19.8 km2. The drop in deforestation in these municipalities is favorable news, but such results can not be exclusively attributed to the Amazon Fund.

Other indicators accompanied by the project:

- Number of rural producers trained to implement agroforestry systems (SAFs): 2,574

- Number of rural producers trained to collect seeds: 350

- Number of Terena community members trained to collect seeds: 75

- Number of youths trained for environmental production and recovery: 16

- Number of technicians hired and trained: 8

- Number of seed houses structured: 10

- Number of rural properties georeferenced: 622

- Rural property area georeferenced: 24,642 hectares

- Number of female coordinators in the Ouro Verde Institute (IOV): 6 women (46%) of a total of 13 coordinator positions

- Number of women on management councils in communities: 7 women (32%) of a total of 22 people

SUSTAINABILITY OF RESULTS

Sementes do Portal brought about three significant advances in the communities involved:

1 – Expanding implementation of the agroforestry systems (SAFs) throughout the region. The potential of the SAFs to move from a mere technique for “recovery” to a concrete option for substituting the production matrix still depends on other mechanisms, linked, mainly, to the possibility of commercializing products and further know-how in managing species.

2 – Collecting seeds was strengthened as an economic option for farmers in the entire region. Setting up collection groups, structuring the seed houses and starting the work to sell seeds outside the project all show that this effort, although strongly linked to Sementes do Portal, can grow in the future.

3 - The project strengthened integration between the farming communities and may become a springboard for new structuring efforts throughout the whole region.

TO ACESS THE EFFECTIVENESS EVALUATION REPORT OF THE "PORTAL SEEDS" PROJECT CLICK HERE. This assessment was carried out by a team of independent consultants, under the coordination of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit - GIZ. All opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the authors, not necessarily reflecting the position of GIZ and BNDES.