by Adriana Meola Riemke
April 17 2019
With the purchase of 200 kg of Brazil nut seeds, we at TodaVida started our first project to reforest the Amazon in May 2017 in Juruena, Mato Grosso, Brazil.
In this region in the southern Amazon rainforest, there is a network of small cooperatives that gently harvest and use the nuts from the jungle.
Meeting of Munduruku (collectors) with COOPAVAM (producers)
From these seeds we were able to grow seedlings of this perhaps most important tree in the Amazon region together with the community tree nursery of Juruena. The seedlings were then offered from 2018 onwards to local landowners interested in implementing agroforestry systems based on Brazil nut trees.
TodoVida thus financed the breeding of more than 3,000 seedlings until they were ready for planting. The young gardener Oseías Gonçalves de Oliveira took care of the seedlings with the technical support of the agronomist and coordinator of the nursery, Fioravante José Montanher.
Fioravante with our first first 200kg of Brazil nuts seeds
The germination process of the Brazil nut is slow. Each seed has its own growth rate. Only about 800 seedlings were ready to be planted in December 2018 to maintain their final place in the Amazon soil. These seedlings were donated to selected families who had agreed to take care of the trees in the long term.
Brazil Nuts seedlings, ready to be delivered to nature
Farmer Carlos Andretti took over more than 200 seedlings at once and perfected his existing agroforestry system with them. In such a system, endemic trees can maintain their natural growth period, while in their shade other native plant species develop and secure the family’s financial support in the short term.
The germination box is a large wooden box covered with sawdust in which the seeds are placed and exposed to sunlight. The sawdust stabilizes temperature and humidity. The germination box is checked daily to ensure that the seeds are not infested by insects or fungi.
The combination of many different species simultaneously in the same place may seem unusual at first, but the results are indisputable. The Andretti family, for example, has created an arrangement of Brazil nuts, cocoa, bananas, coffee, pineapple and urukum in their agroforestry system. The family already harvests their products several times a year, while they wait until the Brazil nuts bear their first fruits after about 6 to 7 years.
The interest of livestock farmers in the agroforestry system has surprised many ecologists in the region, as livestock farmers are generally associated with the destruction of the forest rather than its conservation. Some breeders have even taken over some of our Brazil nut seedlings with the technical support of the agronomists of the project in a system called “Silvopastoril”.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
The introduction of profitable agroforestry systems by livestock farmers is another important step towards restoring and preserving the forest. Livestock farmers have an impact on the community and can encourage other livestock farmers and small producers to adopt this sustainable production model.