Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisas Ambientais

Between monoculture and diversity: alternatives for the rural development in the region of Tomé-Açu, Pará

Author: Ana Claudia Rocha Braga
Advisor: Célia Regina Tomiko Futemma
Coorientator: Aline Vieira de Carvalho
Date of defense: 31/03/2017

Jury:

Célia Regina Tomiko Futemma (Presidente)

Jansle Vieira Rocha

Alfredo KingoOyamaHomma

Rosângela Calado da Costa

Alexandre Uezu

 

Producing food, fibres and biofuels while maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services is one of the greatest challenges that rural populations are facing. To meet this challenge it is necessary a new approach to understand the dynamics in agrossystems, which accounts for ecological, social and economic domains, over various temporal and spatial scales. The resilience approach has been successfully used in these cases. In agrossystems resilience is related to the farm management, which is influenced by the perception of opportunities and challenges from different scales at social, economic, political and ecological domains. The main goal of this study is to understand the contribution of social, human and natural capitals in the agrossystems resilience. In particularly, the focus was given to analyze the influences of the Technical Assistance and Rural Extension (TARE) provided by public, private and civil society organizations; also to the analyses of the changes in the agricultural systems, after the establishment of contracts with the biofuel private sector; and finally the understanding of the contribution of internal characteristics of households that influences their dynamics, also related to pressures in different scales. The study was conducted in Tomé-Açu, in the Amazonian region, due to the direct influence of Nacional Program for Biofuel Use and Production, and because of unique regional historical aspects. Semi structured interviews were conducted with smallholders, technicians and biofuel corporations personnel, public and civil organization actors related to the TARE services. And to complete the data from interviews, a bibliographic research and field surveys of the smallholder’s farms were used to identify the periods of land use and cover changes at local level, and also to better understand the region dynamic. The result supports the strong contribution of social and human capital in the resilience of agrossystems, by increasing their adaptive and transformation capacities on dealing with pressures from different scales. This multiplicity of TARE actors and the focus in supporting family farming turn the TARE initiatives promising in the region. All farms analysed were highly dynamic, with changes not always preceded by crisis periods. Two main strategies are available to the smallholders at region: one based on external dynamics, based on monoculture of palm oil with participation of big biofuels companies; the other one, is through diversity, by using agroforestry systems (AS) constructed by local institutions based on previous local experiences. These two options are available for smallholders recovery in the region, which are then, mediated by each landowner social, human e natural capitals. Households with longer history in the land usually adopt more diversified systems (AS), while households with more degraded soil, with less capital for investment, frequently opt for the partnership with the large biofuel companies, and implement palm monocultures with huge amounts of external inputs.

 

Keywords:

 

 resilience of agrosystems, biodiesel, oil palm, agroforestry systems, ATER