IFAD-funded project to help preserve Amazonian forest in one of Brazil’s poorest states

The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of the State of Maranhão signed a financing agreement today for the implementation of the Amazon Sustainable Management Project (PAGES). Implemented in Brazil’s state with the highest poverty and food insecurity rates, the project will address the entrenched environmental degradation of the Amazonian forest.

The total project cost is US$ 37 million, of which IFAD will contribute with a grant of US$ 17 million, provided by the Government of Germany through the Enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP+). The Government of Maranhão will contribute $ 16 million, and the beneficiaries will provide in-kind contributions of $ 4 million.

PAGES targets the poorest and most vulnerable populations in the Brazilian Amazon. It will benefit approximately 80,000 rural people, of which at least 50 per cent will be women and 25 per cent youth. Almost 15 per cent will belong to indigenous and other traditional communities, such as quilombolas, and babassu nut gatherers.

“In Maranhão, as in other parts of Brazil, poverty, food insecurity and environmental degradation are deeply intertwined. PAGES seeks to provide smallholder farmers and traditional communities with tools that allow them to improve their socioeconomic situation without having to resort to exhausting their natural resources. Development and welfare on the long term are only possible through the sustainable use of nature,” said Claus Reiner, IFAD’s Country Director for Brazil.

Family farmers, indigenous peoples and other traditional communities in Maranhão’s Amazon forest are among the poorest populations in Brazil. Maranhão State has Brazil’s highest proportion of people living in poverty (53 per cent) and extreme poverty (20 per cent). In addition, it is the state with the most critical food insecurity rate -approximately 60 per cent of the households are affected.

PAGES will be the first IFAD-funded rural development intervention in Brazil that goes beyond the semiarid north-eastern region known as sertão. Nonetheless, it will draw on IFAD’s extensive experience in small-scale agroforestry and water access infrastructure investments in that area.

The project area comprises three regions of Maranhão State: Amazonas, Gurupí and Pindaré, and encompasses the indigenous lands of Arariboia. The total area of 58,755 km² includes 37 municipalities and covers approximately 72 per cent of the state’s Amazon forest, a region under constant deforestation and degradation threats by illegal logging and land clearing for large-scale farming. Through the intervention, the project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 6 million tons of CO2 equivalent.

The project will apply an integrated strategy encompassing four elements. First, it will promote sustainable forest management. This element includes the use of agroforestry best practices such as the intercropping of forest trees with cassava, maize, beans and coffee; and the improvement of indigenous communities’ capacities for territorial protection by increasing their ability to prevent invasions, deforestation and fires.

Secondly, PAGES will foster the production and marketing of non-timber forest products such as açaí, babassu, and honey through investments and technical assistance to producers’ organizations. Thirdly, the project will also invest in basic water infrastructure such as cisterns, water reuse and green septic tank systems). This will fulfil families’ need of water for self and animal consumption, agricultural production and energy. Finally, it will improve the families’ and the state authorities’ capacities to ensure rural populations’ access to public social protection and production improvement programmes – and also Maranhão’s socioeconomic and environmental governance of the Amazon forest.

The State Secretariat for Family Farming (SAF) will be the lead implementing entity for the project, working in strategic partnership with the Maranhão Institute for Settlement and Lands (ITERMA) and the State Agency of Agricultural and Livestock Research and Rural Extension (AGERP).

Notes:

Since the 1980s, IFAD’s investments in Brazil have focused on rural development activities in the semi-arid northeaster region of the country, known as sertão. All IFAD-supported projects in the country focus on supporting and promoting family farming, especially among marginalized groups, such as indigenous and quilombolas (Afro-descendants) communities, agrarian reform settlers, women and youth.

The 13 IFAD-supported projects in the country have invested a total of $ 1.18 billion (with more than $ 297 million from IFAD) and have benefited some 615,400 households.

You can find more information about IFAD’s operations in Brazil here.

You can read some life stories of how IFAD-supported projects are helping family farmers overcome the impact of COVID-19 and poverty here.

You can learn how IFAD-supported projects are helping to maintain Brazil’s biodiversity in this video.

The Enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP+) aims to mobilise $ 500 million from IFAD and other international donors to help more than 10 million farmers across the globe to adapt to climate change. It’s the biggest global fund dedicated to this objective.

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