Fuels Our Economy
Growing Sustainable Agriculture in Brazil
Sustainable soy production is a profitable choice for Brazil's forests and its farmers.
Like the big-rigs overflowing with soy and corn that barrel down narrow highways in central Brazil, Luciane Copetti is in a hurry.
“As a citizen of Rio Verde, as a leader, I have a very important mission and I worry a lot about completing this mission.”
Luciane serves as the secretary of the environment in Lucas do Rio Verde, a city in the state of Mato Grosso. Along with her husband and grown children, she also grows soy and other crops on a large farm outside the city.
“Soy production in the state of Mato Grosso has increased a lot to meet global demands and I feel a responsibility toward this. I know I provide soy products to Brazil and to the world.”
All regions of Brazil grow soybeans, but the state of Mato Grosso is responsible for 27 percent of national production and contributes 8 percent of all soybeans produced globally.
Tools for Sustainability
As the secretary of the environment, it is Luciane’s job to enforce the Brazilian Forest Code in Lucas. The Forest Code requires landowners to protect a percentage of their property to maintain the shared benefits of nature, like clean air and abundant water.
“The Brazilian Forest Code is a legislation created many years ago to help organize the country´s development and to avoid the devastation of the forests,” said Diogo Molina, the Conservancy’s agriculture project coordinator working in central Brazil.
“One of the tools The Nature Conservancy created was the CARGEO, a software that allows producers to map, evaluate and register their properties in the Environmental Rural Registry (CAR), and then recover the degraded areas and obtain certification verifying that their property is in compliance.”
Diogo explained that this mapping tool was piloted and refined in Lucas. “The Conservancy´s presence here is changing producers. They are now more conscious about conservation and sustainable development.”
Spreading Sustainable Practices
And now, the same mechanism that was used in Lucas where Luciane lives and works was adopted at the national level when a revised version of the Forest Code was enacted in 2013. “To us, it is very important to know that Lucas do Rio Verde in partnership with the Conservancy, served as a model to many other places,” Luciane said.
This game-changing development not only matters to protecting the one-of-a-kind natural systems of Brazil but also the bottom line of the Brazilian economy. Global corporations do not want to be associated with agricultural practices that degrade the rainforests, grasslands and other iconic areas of the country.
“The global demand for sustainable soy is growing,” Diogo said. “Producers are seeing this growth and trying to adapt to the conditions that allow them to grow sustainable soy and guarantee their place in the market.”
“The natural heritage we have here does not exist anywhere else. For this reason, it is increasingly important to reconcile the priorities of conservation and farming,” and according to Luciane, “this, for sure, is a great legacy for future generations.”