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World Food Day: How Family Farmers are Improving Food Security in Brazil

World Food Day: How Family Farmers are Improving Food Security in Brazil

16 October 2014

BRAZIL - World Food Day on October 16th draws attention to the 805 million people who are chronically undernourished around the globe.

This year’s theme “Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” highlights the important role family farmers have in improving food security for their families and their communities.

One of our partnerships in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, Centro Sul de Feijão e Milho, works directly with family farmers to help them grow beans and corn more productively and in more sustainable ways.

Beans: a staple of the Brazilian diet

Strengthening family farmers by improving their yields and access to market has recently been credited to greatly reducing hunger in Brazil.

The country is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of dry beans, such as carioca (pinto) and black beans, which are staple foods for Brazilians and often eaten on a daily basis.

Each year more than three million tons of beans are produced in Brazil, with family farmers contributing roughly 70 per cent of total production.

These family farmers are typically smallholders, for whom yields can be considerably lower than their potential due to the lack of ability and knowledge on handling infestations of pests, weeds and diseases such as the Anthracnose fungus which, left untreated, can ruin an entire bean harvest.

Boosting smallholder bean and corn yields

Through the Centro Sul de Feijão e Milho partnership, growers in groups of 20-25 people are given hands-on, interactive trainings in the field on a range of topics, from disease and pest identification to the wearing of protective clothing and safe use of crop protection products.

They’re trained on how to reduce soil erosion and improve fertility through adopting a soil management system of ‘no-tillage’ – where weeds are controlled via crop protection products and the ground is not tilled in order to prevent soil from being washed away in heavy rains.

As a result of their training, growers in the program got yields that were on average 1.7 times higher than the national average for corn and up to 2.5 times higher for beans.

The initiative is conducted in partnership with Emater, IAPAR, EMBRAPA, the Secretary of Agriculture of Paraná and the Brazilian Federation of No-Till and others organizations. Last year, more than 12,000 growers were reached.

“Through the project Centro Sul de Feijão e Milho, I’ve got to know the available technologies and best practices which have helped me increase yields and manage resources such as soil more efficiently. All of this has helped me improve my productivity and profitability,” says Amilton Viniski, bean and corn grower from Ipiranga/Paraná.

TheCropSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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