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The Environment
Rio+20: Itaipu helps farmers to reduce emissions of GHG
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11/06/2012

Itaipu Binacional is the main promoter in the western region of Paraná, of the National Low Carbon Agriculture Program (ABC), of federal government. The program is one of Brazil's strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), a voluntary commitment made by the country at the Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2010.

Brazil's commitment is to reduce its emissions by 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (a reduction of between 36% and 39% of the current levels). To achieve this volume, the Country wants to decrease 80% of Amazon deforestation, 40% deforestation of the Cerrado and the rest with the ABC Program strategies.

Agriculture and livestock accounts for one quarter of national emissions of greenhouse gases. The main points of the ABC Program are: to recover 15 million hectares of degraded pasture, increase by 8 million hectares area with direct planting, working with the biological fixation of nitrogen by 5.5 million hectares, increasing the forests planted in three million hectares and promote the treatment of 4.4 million cubic meters of waste from livestock.

"Itaipu has anticipated these actions and has been working on projects that are in line with the objective of the ABC program, mainly on two fronts: the direct planting in straw and livestock waste treatment," explains the director of Coordination and Environment of Itaipu, Nelton Friedirich

Direct planting has three fundamental principles: the soil is never plowed, it is necessary to crop rotation and there must be a soil covered by straw of the intermediate crop. The use of these techniques results in many environmental benefits such as significant reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases, greater infiltration of rainwater (which thus does not carry organic matter to rivers), and reduced use of agrochemicals.

Itaipu, in partnership with the Brazilian Federation of Direct Planting in straw (FEBRAPDP) created a methodology that certifies, by means of a seal, the quality of direct planting on a rural property. For the development of this methodology, data from 216 rural properties in the region were used. This information is entered in a georeferenced system, developed in free software by the International Hydroinformatics Center, based at the Itaipu Technological Park. 

This application generates a quality score of direct planting on each property assessed. It is up to producers - organized into committees of hydrographic basins - the responsibility of making a self-assessment of items related to direct planting. The federation is also responsible for verify in the field, the quality indicators of the planting.

"The result is a more effective control of soil management techniques," says agronomist engineer João José Passini, Itaipu. "The next stage of the partnership is to develop a tool that allows payment for environmental services provided by farmers who adopt the direct planting," he adds.

Sustainable Agriculture

The incentive to direct planting is one of the actions of the Sustainable Rural Development program, part of the Cultivating Good Water. Acting on the committee (formed by technical assistance and research agencies, cooperative, farmers and producers organizations), the program's central proposal for the gradual replacement of monoculture, forming agroecological systems and processes based on diversification and self-regulation of environmental. 

Since 2003, when the program was introduced, about a thousand local farmers joined the practice of organic agriculture. Another 1,500 are in an advanced stage in the adoption of sustainable agriculture and livestock practices, such as the integration of livestock and farming, milk in pasture production and crop diversification, especially with the fruit growing. 

In addition to technical support to these producers, Itaipu and other project partners encourage the agro-ecological production through Organic Life Fairs, the inclusion of organic food in school meals, the creation of agro-industries cooperatives focused on the family farmer, among other actions.

The farmer Norberto Seibel, of Santa Helena (municipality that borders the reservoir of Itaipu), says that many changes made on your property, under the guidance of Itaipu technicians, with impacts not only in production but also in quality of life. "The benefits are the improvement of our dairy herd and pasture, the greater variety of products to the fair, the pasteurization of milk to sell for school meal, and the quality of molasses, with the highest productivity of sugar cane," says Seibel.

 

Medicinal plants

 

Another front of the Cultivating Good Water related to sustainable practices in the field is the Medicinal Plants program. Through this initiative, Itaipu has trained more than 10,000 people (including doctors, dentists, health workers and producers) with guidelines on the cultivation and use of herbal medicines that are part of the biodiversity of the region and has scientifically proven efficacy in the treatment of Health.

 

Today, 32 health care units in the region provide herbal medicines to patients. The municipality of Vera Cruz do Oeste, for example, reduced spending by 30% with the treatment of hypertension and diabetes after the adoption of medicinal plants in its health care units.

 

Itaipu has a garden and a structure drying of medicinal plants in Bela Vista Biological Refuge. The structure has provided more than 380,000 seedlings and eight tonnes of dried herbal medicines. In addition, it assisted farmers to organize themselves as cooperative, and in partnership with the city of Pato Bragado, created a unit of dry extract, allowing to increase the added value to the production of medicinal plants.

 

"As a producer of medicinal plants, I believe this project is going to work, the importance of people's lives, not only economic value but also the quality of life than can offer to people who produce and make use these plants to prevent and cure diseases, "said Guiomar Neves, president of Cooperativa Gran Lago, which brings together 24 producers of medicinal plants. 

For more information and interviews, please contact:

Press of Itaipu Binacional
imprensa@itaipu.gov.br
55 45 3520-5230