by Ana Mano
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian soybean growers are being paid to promote sustainable agriculture, according to organizers of a new initiative involving 55 producers in the states of Maranhão and Mato Grosso, in the agricultural heartland of the country.
The program, which rewards producers for their “environmental services”, highlights the growing pressure on Brazilian agribusiness, which needs to promote the transition to a model that eliminates deforestation from its chain, neutralizing its carbon footprint in the process.
In doing so, the program creates a financial incentive for environmental protection, addressing a common complaint from Brazilian farmers – that they do not benefit from adopting environmentally friendly practices.
The initiative has the support of the chemical unit of the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, which makes payments to farmers, and the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) — responsible for the methodology for evaluating environmental services, which include increasing the fixation of carbon in the soil. , water conservation and care for biodiversity on properties.
According to the scientists, farmers can employ regenerative techniques to help fix carbon in the soil, including planting crops or using land cover year-round, in conjunction with agroforestry activities that combine livestock, agriculture and tree planting. .
Marcelo Habe, marketing director for Sumitomo Chemical in Brazil, told Reuters that the initiative generated a “theoretical” reduction in deforestation estimated at 4,000 hectares, based on data from an algorithm. He said the company has set aside $55,000 in rewards to be paid to eligible Brazilian soybean farmers in 2021.
Habe added that, in the end, the carbon credits accumulated by Brazilian producers could be negotiated with Sumitomo itself, helping the company to reach its goal of zeroing its net carbon emissions within the deadline, which ends in 2050.
Farmers participating in the program, including some Sumitomo clients, grow soybeans in an estimated area of 450,000 hectares in Maranhão and 19,000 hectares in Mato Grosso, according to the company.
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