Brazil' farmers start to farm organic

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, by David Klier
Organic soy field in Brazil

In the south of Brazil, in the state of Paraná, already 120 farmers are cultivating organic soy. And their numbers are growing.

Something's happening in Brazil. More and more farmers are turning their backs on deadly pesticides. The Brazilian television station "Rede Globo" has produced a video about gebana Brasil and its organic farmers. Watch the video with English subtitles here.

The farmers from the state of Paraná in the south of Brazil are worried. Throughout the country there are stories of newborns with malformations, children who puberty far too early and farm workers who die of pesticide poisoning. They are not just stories, but hard facts, as Arte showed earlier this year in the short report "Deadly Cycle: Pesticides in Brazil". In this report, researchers like Ada Cristina Pontes from the Fiocruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro express their concern about the use of pesticides.

So, it is hardly surprising that more and more farmers in Brazil are reacting and turning their backs on the poisons. Interestingly, it is above all the smaller farms that are returning to a more traditional way of farming. The Brazilian TV station Rede Globo accompanied some of these farmers, who deliver their products to gebana in Brazil, to their fields and portrayed the work of gebana Brasil.

In the video, the farmers explain that the change was not easy for them. On the one hand, neighbours would smile at them; on the other hand, dealing with insects and diseases without pesticides would be a major challenge. But the farmers have an inventive talent.

Flávio Berno, for example, treats his soybeans homoeopathically. But instead of using remedies for plants, he uses homeopathy for cattle. He prepares the necessary tinctures to control the bug populations, for example, himself. This also involves the use of a decommissioned washing machine.

As of April 2018, around 120 farmers in Paraná are planting organic soy on an area of 5000 hectares. They are committed to preserving insect diversity and producing soy free of harmful substances.

The biggest problems they face are those of their neighbours, who continue to grow conventionally, who use pesticides and sow genetically modified seeds. This means that they cannot sell the soybeans that grow on the borders of neighbouring fields as organic soy.

But the good news is: More and more conventional farmers are switching to organic farming. And the topic of organic farming is also becoming increasingly important among the Brazilian population. We have seen this for ourselves since the launch of gebana Brasil's online shop (the linked story is in German).