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Day 6 – Conservation Agriculture: Bearing the Torch from Brazil To Africa

Posted by Jeffrey A Brez Saturday, July 16, 2011

Greetings from Foz do Iguaçu – the town of Iguassu Falls – where we are wrapping up our intense workshop. We began the day with presentations and discussions – including an eye-opener from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA): the cost of environmental degradation in Africa ranges from 4% to 12% of GDP! Enormous.




Then we visited the Itaipu Dam, the operators of which provide payments to municipalities along the reservoir lake to provide the environmental service of implementing no-till agriculture to reduce siltation at the dam. The dam provides 25% of Brazil’s energy.

So how to adapt and adopt the Brazilian experience to the African reality? AGRA’s Rebbie Harawa called on all workshop participants to be "torchbearers" in their respective countries, to promote and support conservation agriculture practices and reverse the trend of degradation. The teams spent the afternoon and evening working with IAPAR, FEBRAPDP, FEPAGRO and CIRAD coaches preparing ideas to present to the group tomorrow - the last day of the workshop - on how what they have learned and observed can be applied in sub-saharan Africa. We will post all presentations early next week in a wrap up blog.

So that's it from Brazil - but we will be back with another post from IFAD HQ in Rome on Monday.

This blog prepared by Jeff Brez and Waltteri Katajamaki.

2 comments

  1. I think one of the most profound statements of the whole trip was made by Ricardo on Saturday. We all visited the Falls and while we stood at this massive waterfall falling down into the canyon Ricardo said: "Never never try to fight nature". With this he went on to explain again how CA works with nature and not against nature. COnventional farming is a constant fight against nature. As we drove out in the forest someone comented look at nature. Look again how nature is doing it. Trees, biodiveristy, cover, abundance,etc. The problem is we arrive there with our wisdom, cut down the trees, burn all the organic matter and then we plough the soil. And we think we are great farmers. Time to make nature your teacher and see how it happens in nature. What a trip. We learnt a lot.

     
  2. I wonder if our first question about the weeds have been answered? Yes it is possible to do CA without chemicals. It might take some time, but it is possible if you plant cover crops, have a thick mulch cover and do rotations. The problem many times is that we have been beating our soil into submission with a plough or wrong agricultural practices. Do not expect miracles from your soil in the beginning. A friend of mine have described it well. If you have been beating your wife for long and now you change and stop doing it. It will take some time for her to trust you again. Your soil is the same. The healing process is not quick.