Farmers commit to sustainable livestock in the Amazon

21 April 2020

About one hundred ranchers from Rondônia and Pará participated in workshops promoted by Solidaridad and the Brazilian Sustainable Beef Working Group (GTPS) to learn sustainable practices.

Ranchers participated in workshops on sustainable livestock practices

A new generation of ranchers in the Amazon is keen on accessing information on more sustainable practices in livestock. Brothers Fernando and Felipe Geraldino, children of ranchers in Cacoal (RO) are an example of this. Both attended the workshop promoted by Solidaridad and the Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock (GTPS) in Rolim de Moura (RO) on the main guidelines for sustainability in the sector. "We, the younger ones, understand that following these rules brings benefits to the property and to the people who participate in the whole process, contributing to improve production", commented Fernando.

Son of a cattle rancher and father of three, the veterinarian Maurício Fraga Filho believes that markets play a key role in leveraging sustainability across the entire value chain. 

Our children and grandchildren will receive this land. So, we are concerned with keeping it productive for the next generations ” -Maurício Fraga Filho 

Maurício and his son Guilherme participated in the workshop held in Marabá (PA), where they own a rural property.

Solidaridad and the Brazillian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock (GTPS) started a series of workshops to introduce the Sustainable Livestock Indicators Guide (GIPS), in partnership with JBS and Minerva Foods: Ji-Paraná, Rolim de Moura and Vilhena, in Rondônia, from February 5th to 7th, and in Novo Repartimento, Itupiranga and Marabá, in Pará, between the 19th and 21st.  In total, 110 cattle ranchers that supply slaughterhouses in the states of Rondônia and Pará participated in the workshops and completed a self assessment. 

Ranchers are becoming increasingly aware that the current challenge for Brazillian livestock is to produce more with less space. Valdir Lemes Machado, a rancher from Novo Repartimento (PA), stated that he is already investing in techniques to improve pasture management, with the aim of increasing production without deforestation. 

I am interested in these sustainability indicators. Even having made mistakes in the past, we now understand that adopting good practices is the right thing to do” - Valdir Lemes Machado

The GIPS is a voluntary self-assessment tool created by GTPS to guide continuous improvement in cattle ranching. Self-assessments are free, confidential and focused on measuring the sustainability of production and property management. Luiza Bruscato, Executive Coordinator of GTPS, highlighted that the engagement of  slaughterhouses in this process is important for producers to understand that sustainability is a broader issue. “[Producers] are starting to realize that sustainability goes beyond environmental issues; it also stretches management, productivity and nutrition techniques ”, she stressed.

After submitting their self-assessment, ranchers receive a complete report on their sustainability performance including guidance on continuous improvement, as well as access to the GIPS platform so that they can repeat their assessment in the following year.

MORE DEMANDING CONSUMERS

Sometimes we talk about sustainability without knowing how to measure it. GIPS’ indicators will help in this process” -Enio Milane

According to Enio Milane, a rancher from Vilhena (RO), consumers are more demanding and, “following sustainability criteria helps opening markets”. Cattle farmer Felipe Geraldino also remarks that "current laws require the producer to become more sustainable."

The workshops are an opportunity for slaughterhouses, with direct and indirect suppliers in the Amazon, to commit themselves to improving beef production by adopting practices that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribute to a more efficient land use, without new deforestation. The main requirements for importers — pressured by consumers — are traceability and the guarantee of low carbon production.

Farmers will be able to carry out GIPS self-assessments annually for continuous improvement

IMPORTS AT RISK

Growing deforestation in the Amazon biome is currently the major obstacle for the ratification of the free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, whose negotiation has been going on for more than 20 years. In addition, deforestation rates increase risks of a boycott to Brazilian meat by European investors, companies and consumers. According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the deforestation rate in the Amazon between August 2018 and July 2019 increased by almost 30%, the highest in the decade and registered in relation to the previous year. 

For Joyce Brandão, Solidaridad manager of the cocoa, livestock and soy programmes in Brazil, solutions for sustainable meat production are already a reality. “With this initiative, we want to facilitate the arrival of new investments in regions with low access to technologies, services and inputs, so that ranchers can make a quick and scalable transition to low carbon production. Amazon is our focus, as it gathers key actors in the chain, such as the industry, and for this transition to happen, it is necessary for ranchers to know the step-by-step road to continual improvement ”, she explains.

LOW CARBON

Activities in partnership with the GTPS are part of a programme led by Solidaridad, and funded by the Norwegian International Climate and Forestry Initiative (NICFI), focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation. To this end, Solidaridad supports the transition to low-carbon livestock in the Brazillian Amazon, and seeks to increase the uptake of sustainable agricultural goods by American and Chinese markets that allow the conservation of the forest. 

Also with support from NICFI, Solidaridad has been implementing since 2015 the “Inclusive and Sustainable Territories in the Amazon” project in the Tuerê rural settlement, in Novo Repartimento, Pará. The project caters to 200 small producers who receive technical assistance to apply low carbon techniques such as productive intensification, and recovery of degraded pastures, to improve their production, while preserving forests. 

ABOUT GTPS

Created in 2007, the Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock (GTPS) was the first round table to discuss sustainability issues related to the livestock value chain. The GTPS gathers all kinds of stakeholders, from producers to industry members, inputs and services’ suppliers, banks, civil society organizations, retailers and restaurants, research centers and universities to disseminate quality information and promote continual improvement in all processes related to the sector. Solidaridad has been active partner of GTPS since its inception, and looks forward to continued collaboration towards the vision of sustainable livestock.

Further reading:

Solidaridad shares expertise at sustainable beef vision summit

Solidaridad and Wageningen University reveal potential of small cattle ranching

Sustainable cattle in practice


>Read more about our work in Livestock.

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  • Contact Information

    Gert van der Bijl

    International Programme Coordinator, Livestock

    't Goylaan 15, 3525 AA Utrecht, The Netherlands