Brazilian Farmers Are Switching to Organic

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Ecology Insights
Organic soy - fields

In the south of Brazil, 120 farmers in the Paraná state are now growing organic soy – and the trend is on the rise.

Something is happening in Brazil. More and more farmers are turning their backs on deadly pesticides. The Brazilian television station "Rede Globo" presented a piece about gebana Brazil and its organic farmers, which you can view with English subtitles here.

Farmers from the state of Paraná in southern Brazil are concerned. Stories of newborns with malformations, children reaching puberty far too early and farm workers dying from pesticide poisoning are circulating across the country. This is fact and not fiction, as shown in May in Arte’s short video "Deadly cycle: Pesticides in Brazil" (subtitles in German or French). In it, researchers such as Ada Cristina Pontes from the Fiocruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro are visibly concerned.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising that more and more Brazilian farmers are taking action by avoiding pesticides. The Brazilian TV broadcaster Rede Globo accompanied some of these farmers who supply their products to gebana to their fields and portrayed the work of gebana Brazil.

In the video, the farmers explain that the move wasn’t easy for them. Though neighbours would smile at them, dealing with insects and diseases without pesticides is a major challenge. However, the farmers are inventive.

Flávio Berno, for example, treats his soybeans homeopathically. Instead of using remedies for plants, he makes use of homeopathy for cattle. Using an old washing machine, he prepares the tinctures required to control the bug populations.

As of April 2018, 120 farmers in Paraná are planting organic soy on an area of 5000 hectares. They are committed to preserving the diversity of insects and producing soy without pollutants. The biggest problems they face come from their neighbours, who continue to cultivate conventionally, use pesticides and sow genetically modified seeds. This means that they cannot sell the soybeans that grow on the borders of the neighbouring fields as organic soy.

The good news is that more and more conventional farmers are making the switch. Organic farming is also increasingly becoming a topic of interest in the broader Brazilian population. We have witnessed this ourselves since the gebana Brazil online shop was launched (the linked story is in German).

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