5 inspiring examples of regenerative agriculture in South America

We’re living in a time where it’s no longer good enough to be sustainable. 

Instead, we need to be looking beyond sustainable practices to regenerative ones. This is true for many industries, including agriculture.

Shaman Rudá Iandê got me thinking about this topic through his emotive article on Brazil’s Chapada dos Veadeiros.

He brought attention to the ‘relentless march’ of monoculture farms in the national park, and how they have the potential to impact a place and its people. 

But he also shone a spotlight on an inspiring regenerative project in the region, called the Macacão Farm. 

As such, I started researching further examples of regenerative agriculture in Brazil and the rest of South America, and I came across 6 worth sharing:

1) Los Arboleros Farm, Ecuador

Regenerative agriculture is all about protecting and regenerating the soil, improving water cycles and ultimately increasing biodiversity.

Regenerative agriculture explains

“Without protecting and regenerating the soil on our 4 billion acres of cultivated farmland, 8 billion acres of pastureland, and 10 billion acres of forest land, it will be impossible to feed the world, keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, or halt the loss of biodiversity.”

Los Arboleros Farm, in Ecuador’s Manabi region, is one example of these pillars in motion.

reNature suggests this farm will inspire thousands of farmers over time and have a positive social impact, improving the livelihoods of farmers through capacity-building.

The farm, which believes that ‘everything starts with soil’, produces bamboo within a roughly designed agroforestry system. This sort of system is an ‘intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits’, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Los Arboleros Farm is complete with an entirely bamboo infrastructure and it’s an inspiring example that serves as a demonstration site for the Regeneration Field Institute (RFI) in Ecuador. 

The RFI explain:

“Los Arboleros Farm is not only a site where we can now model bamboo plantation management, bamboo curing and processing, and provide other resources to people wanting to enter the bamboo industry, but serve as a demonstration for other organic regenerative agricultural practices like compost making, crop rotation, agroecology, topsoil conservation, and watershed management.”

It’s also serving as a model farm and collaborating with three local and seven international universities, showcasing how its possible to reach economic resilience through regenerative agroforestry. 

2) Cerro Azul, Chile

Cerro Azul, Chile, is a farm that preaches the message that agriculture needs to move beyond simply being sustainable to being a regenerative force.

And they are one farm leading the charge.

In 2019, Cerro Azul changed its approach from conventional agrochemical-heavy farming to regenerative grazing, and now it is an inspiring example of what is possible with a vision. 

Just one year after starting the project, a single pasture area saw 25 new species of plants spring up, along with the return of flocks of birds. It’s also become more resistant to floods and droughts.

So how did they do it?

This farm uses animals as tools in their regenerative management to restore soil and foster biodiversity. It does this through working with Angus cattle, who spend their lives on their organic pastures.

The result is regenerative meat, which is without agrochemicals, hormones or antibiotics, and actually good for the land. “This is beef how it should be”, they say. 

The farm works to a rhythm of short-term intense animal impact and long pasture recovery times to encourage soil regeneration. They explain:

“Imitating the behavior of the large wild bison herds, we create high animal impact on our pastures, for up to three days, thereafter allowing the land to rest for prolonged periods, of up to 90 days.

“Our animals spend all their life on our pastures, which are entirely organic, free from agrochemicals. Through their regenerative grazing patterns they restore the soil.”

Their meat is good for the soil and planet. This healthy soil plays an important role in sequestering and storing carbon, and facilitating water cycles. 

They add:

“By focusing on soil health, a virtuous circle is activated in favour of nature. Soil regeneration supports and reinforces the ecosystem’s natural cycles and interrelationships, enhancing biodiversity, ultimately producing more nutritious food, without any use of agrochemicals of any sort.”

The need to protect soil is a core message of theirs, which they wish to share with others.

3) KardiaNuts, Colombia 

KardiaNuts, in Vichada, Colombia, is an organic cashew farm that’s focused on increasing soil health and creating food security through the process. 

This is a model farm on a mission to contribute to supporting and revolutionizing the country’s rural development. The region of Vichada has the second-highest poverty rate in the country, and KardiaNuts wants to do something about it.

Having a socioeconomic impact, along with environmental goals, is important to KardiaNuts. It wants to see tangible results, and it’s making sure that each day counts.

So far, KardiaNuts has supported 20 local families under a community agricultural model, created more than 75 jobs, planted almost 130,000 trees, sequestered 14,000 tons of C02 for each year, conserved and protected 600 hectares for the local biodiversity, and produced 0% food waste.

In other words, it’s been walking its talk!

This farm uses regenerative techniques to diversify crops and create a more reliable income stream that supports local people.

reNature explains that the experimentation with different crops will provide food security for farmers in the future. They add:

“The goal is to inspire and educate thousands of farmers throughout time by establishing agroforestry Model Schools. The farmland will serve as a regional model farm that can be researched and replicated.

“KardiaNuts has also built a nursery that produces 85,000 cashew seedlings every year, and they have planted 460 hectares of land owned by KardiaNuts and other landowners so far.

“They’ve also experimented with different crops in order to further develop an agroforestry system that will provide food security for small farmers, as well as introduced organic fertilizers and insecticides made by KardiaNuts.”

What’s more, beyond itself, KardiaNuts suggests that agricultural development is ‘the most effective catalyst for change’ in the country. They believe that a greater focus needs to be on agricultural value chains as poverty and inequality are Colombia’s main causes of conflict.

4) Paraiso Verde, Bolivia

Paraiso Verde, in the Bolivian Andes, is located in an area that is specifically known for its poor soil quality.

Climate change has caused erosion and soil impoverishment in this region, which has led to less income for farmers. It’s causing many people to migrate to bigger cities to find alternative income sources.

But this project, which focuses on growing apples, peaches and avocado trees, is set on changing the fate of this region.

Already, this project has converted 400 hectares of land to regenerative agroforestry systems and impacted 800 farmers in the process.

And it’s not stopping there: Paraiso Verde is set on supporting and educating 200 farmers each year through implementing regenerative agroforestry systems on their farms.

Its core goal is to increase socio-economic and environmental impact in this rural region, and to continuously inspire farmers.

reNature explain

“This will be done by stopping land degradation and preventing the loss of fertile topsoil, ensuring a safer and more varied food supply through agroforestry practices, and planting vegetables and fruit trees to improve the financial situation by higher revenues. Overall this will also lead to a reduction of CO2 emissions.”

The project plans to work closely with regional organizations and local partners to scale up and meet its ambitious targets.

5) Cooperativa Agrícola Mista de Tomé-Açu, Brazil

Cooperativa Agrícola Mista de Tomé-Açu (or ‘CAMTA’) is a project focused on stopping land degradation, and improving soil and water management in the Brazilian Amazon.

It is located in the State of Pará, in the eastern Amazon Region Area, where many farmers slash and burn agriculture and have depleted plots of land. This contributes to C02 in the atmosphere.

In a bid to mitigate this, one of the goals of this project is focused on capacity-building, which means developing and strengthening skills and processes in the region.

“The project itself has the potential to create a capacity-building approach, while allowing the farmers that aren’t directly related to the cooperative to develop their own plots of land throughout regenerative agriculture,” explains reNature.

Indeed, the project is designed to support farmers with technical assistance about regenerative agroforestry, and it’s already working with 2,800 farmers and 170 cooperative members in the Brazilian Amazon.

To reach its goals of improving economic resilience, creating food security for local communities, stopping land degradation and reducing C02 emissions, it needs to ensure actions are taken. reNature adds:

“The Cooperative needs to strengthen its own agroforestry produce, since it already exports some crops such as Cocoa and Açaí.

“However, it is important that the cooperative members receive training and that new regenerative plots of land are developed.” 

If CAMTA does meet its goals, it is estimated to have a significant economic impact. It has the potential to generate an income of over EUR 5.7 million for the region, creating jobs for over 87 families.

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Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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