RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – “To transform agricultural systems into ecosystems that store more carbon in soils, recovering the quality of this natural resource in order to guarantee the capacity for sustainable food production.” This is one of the main objectives of Living Soils of the Americas, an international initiative to restore soil health in Latin America and the Caribbean, of which Brazil is now a member.
The entry of Brazil took place this Tuesday, 23, with the launch of the Living Soils Brazil program in a virtual event broadcast by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) channel on Youtube.
The initiative aims to promote good land management practices in Brazil and incentives to transform agricultural systems into ecosystems that accumulate more carbon in soils.
At the ceremony, Minister of Agriculture (MAPA) Tereza Cristina emphasized that partnerships are fundamental to accelerate efforts to improve agriculture. “I have always mentioned that Brazilian agriculture is science-driven. And to strengthen science, it is necessary to build alliances: to promote partnerships and joint work between the Brazilian State, private initiative, universities, international organizations and other institutions.”
IICA Director-General Manuel Otero stressed that soil preservation has repercussions in other areas of society. “I want to highlight the importance of this topic of global interest, the need to promote soil conservation in our region, where approximately 40% of soils have some type of degradation, which impacts food production, economic growth, food security, rural well-being, and resilience in mitigating climate change. Likewise, soil recovery and conservation is essential to maintain safe climate limits, which is reflected in multilateral agendas and agreements on these issues.”
The launch event featured a keynote address by Ohio University professor and IICA Goodwill Ambassador Rattan Lal. Winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and the 2020 World Food Prize, the scientist spoke about the need for actions that promote soil carbon sequestration.
“The goal is precisely to have living soils, with good crops, and also to have the carbon sequestration, the carbon footprint, for climate change mitigation. So putting the carbon back into the soil is extremely important for this region,” said Lal.
PERFORMANCE AND EXPECTATION
Experiences and results of public policies were presented by Minister Tereza Cristina, who highlighted Brazil’s pioneering role in the development of low carbon emission agriculture, with the use of technologies that will be promoted in the “Solos Vivos Brasil” program.
One of the actions is the Low Carbon Emission Agriculture Plan (ABC Plan). In ten years, Brazilian rural producers have adopted decarbonizing productive models in more than 52 million hectares.
The recovery of degraded pastures, integrated production systems, and direct planting were some of the technologies that favored the advance of sustainable agriculture. In October this year, MAPA announced the ABC+, which foresees the implementation of low carbon emission technologies in more than 72 million hectares of arable land by 2030.
“The transformative potential of low-carbon farming is enormous. And, no doubt, Living Soils will contribute to the expansion of the adoption of these technologies. Together, ABC and Solos Vivos will be showcases for how the technologies improve the income and quality of life of the farmers involved and also sequester carbon in the soil,” said Tereza Cristina.
Another policy is “Águas do Agro”, the National Program for Soil and Water Conservation in Microwatersheds, which aims to promote the recharge of water in aquifers.
There is also “Pronasolos”, the first public policy for knowledge, use and conservation of soil as a national strategy, which gathers information from dozens of institutions about the Brazilian soils, with unique maps of water availability and of the regions most susceptible to erosion.
“This platform needs to be fed. And two essential assets that need to be reflected in it are carbon and water. The Living Soils program, together with Pronasolos, can be one of the showcases to demonstrate that, besides producing food, fibers, and bioenergy, the Brazilian rural producer can sequester carbon on his properties and also store and produce water,” said the minister.
Led by IICA and Ohio State University’s Center for Carbon Management and Sequestration (C-MASC), the Living Soils of the Americas program is an international initiative that acts as a bridge between science, within the framework of public policy, and development work in restoring soil health in the Americas.
IICA and C-MASC support partners on issues such as policy formulation, land management practices, and incentives to transform agricultural systems into ecosystems that store more carbon in soils, paving the way for the implementation of better management methods and the development of public policies and regulations aimed at restoring soil health and quality.