Countless are the benefits of Agroecology for rural production, such as improving the health of the producer and his family…
Improving the health of producers and consumers, in addition to the quality of the soil, are among the advantages of this production model
Today also defined as a philosophy of life, agroecology is a different way of thinking and cultivating the land, respecting man and the environment involved in production. There are countless benefits that its use can bring to rural production.
Among them, there is an improvement in the health of the producer and his family, the promotion of soil and water quality and the consequent production of healthier and more valued foods in the consumer market.
In Santa Catarina, there are about 1,850 farmers who have organic certification and make use of agroecology principles in the sector that has the greatest impact on philosophy, agriculture. According to Epagri, this number is increasing and practices related to agroecology are widely used in the state, although they are not yet predominant.
What is agroecology?
In summary, agroecology is a field of scientific and popular knowledge, covering the ecological, economic and social dimensions, from a holistic approach and a systemic approach, resulting in benefits for farmers, consumers, the environment and the whole the society.
– The objective is to work in the environment using natural resources in a rational and balanced way, in order to provide the consumer with real food: healthy, safe and socially inclusive – highlights the state manager of rural and fisheries extension at Epagri, Darlan Rodrigo Marchesi.
Less use of pesticides and fertilizers
The benefits of using agroecology were easily perceived by agriculture and, following the trend, it was readily adopted by rural producer Beatriz Moro, from the municipality of Siderópolis, which produces several vegetable crops such as vegetables, lettuce, chicory, kale, radish, arugula , cabbage and cucumber. The average annual production of the farmer is 80 thousand units, which are sold to a supermarket chain and to a local restaurant.
According to Beatriz, agroecology was an opportunity to adapt to the consumer market, since there was a lack of organic vegetables. Since 2015, Beatriz started using the principles of agroecology. The main objective was to get rid of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
– We have worked for many years with conventional production, so we know that in addition to being expensive, it is harmful to health – she guarantees.
Agroecology assumes the lowest demand for the use of inputs in the production systems, until the elimination of most of them, which may reflect in a lower production cost, with a reduction in the environmental and economic cost. For consumers, food and products from agroecology are healthier and more attractive.
Farmer Beatriz explains that it took two years of adapting conventional production to use agroecological principles, but that meetings to exchange experiences with other farmers and visits by Epagri agronomists helped in the process.
– It is very worthwhile, especially for small producers. Certainly those who want to start will always have guidance and support from agronomists. The agroecological product has a very wide field, so it is guaranteed income. In addition, it is very rewarding to offer a safe product to the population – she says.
Improved soil quality
The use of the principles of agroecology makes agroecosystems more resilient and sustainable, that is, with a greater capacity to face environmental and climatic challenges. The main results of environmental balance are the less need to use external inputs, better water infiltration in the soil and less negative impact in periods of excessive or lack of rain.
The work developed at Sítio Flor de Ouro, located in the Ratones neighborhood, in Florianópolis, is an example of a production that uses agroecology since the beginning of its activities, which took place two decades ago, with the work of the farmer and agronomist Pedro Faria Gonçalves . The production of the site is of spices, teas, greens, legumes, roots, tubers, fruits, in addition to other trees with no food purpose.
The result of the production is entirely aimed at a network of about 60 partner families. This partnership is based on the idea of a Community that Supports Agriculture. In this way, the partners make financially viable the production on the site, which, in return, carries out the distribution of organic baskets.
– This model is highly productive and works with the regeneration of nature, at the same time that it produces food – highlights Bruna de Paula, one of the farmers who works on the farm.
According to Bruna, the syntropic agriculture production method, popularly known as agroforestry, is the one adopted on the property.
At Sítio Flor de Ouro there are about 1.5 hectares of intensive planting in an agroforestry system. The production is carried out in a sustainable way, as the soil is properly managed. The result is healthy food that is not susceptible to pests. In addition, as production is diverse, there are no major losses, even when a specific crop does not achieve good results.
According to Bruna, the work is daily and hard, but it is worth it.
– We observe nature and, based on this perception, we make decisions about how to conduct our plantations. It is a return to the simple. I don’t mean that the simple is easy. It requires study, dedication and sweat – she highlights.
Principles of agroecology applied to animal husbandry
The principles of agroecology are also applied in animal husbandry and seek to follow the comfort of nature as a priority. Therefore, the creations are made respecting the minimum space between animals.
When the production is organic, there are a series of criteria regarding the manufacture of the feed that must be respected. The feed cannot have animal components and must have at least 70% of its composition of organic origin, such as corn and soy. The use of manure is also frequent and must take place after the composting process, which allows stabilizing the animal waste, without offering risks of pollution to the environment, and also minimizing any biological contaminants that may be present there.
At the Flor de Ouro site, for example, chickens are kept for the production of stingless eggs and bees, respecting agroecological principles. According to farmer Bruna de Paula, these principles have to do with a broader, more holistic view, in which all beings are related, live happily and have beneficial interactions.
Regarding stingless bees, Bruna explains that bees are integrated into agroforestry systems, as they benefit from a series of flora species that are planted on the site and that supply nectar and pollen as food to the bees. In return, human beings benefit from the pollination, honey and propolis that are produced.
– We don’t need to isolate ourselves from nature. We can act with her, promoting positive interactions. – highlights Bruna.
Period of adaptation of conventional production to the principles of agroecology
In 2019, more than 121 thousand families from Santa Catarina were assisted, who sought to adapt their rural production to agroecological principles. For this, Epagri conducts agricultural research and provides technical assistance and rural extension to farmers and their organizations, promoting systems that use technologies based on good agricultural practices.
An example of this is the Agroconsciente Program , launched in 2019 by the Government of Santa Catarina, through the Secretariat of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, with its related companies Epagri, Cidasc and Ceasa.
Agroconsciente’s proposition is to enhance good practices in favor of farmers and consumers, promoting promotion actions, technical assistance, rural extension, agricultural research, commercialization and monitoring of food quality. All of these actions are ordered and articulated to position Santa Catarina as a protagonist in the production and consumption of safe and principled food.