Transform agricultural systems into ecosystems, which accumulate more carbon in soils, recovering the quality of this natural resource to ensure sustainable food production capacity. This is one of the main objectives of the Living Soils of the Americas program, an international initiative for the restoration of soil health in Latin America and the Caribbean, of which Brazil becomes a part.
The agreement took place on Tuesday, 23, with the launch of the program Solos Vivos Brasil in a virtual event broadcast by the channel of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on Youtube. The initiative aims to promote in Brazil good land management practices and incentives to transform agricultural systems into ecosystems that accumulate more carbon in soils.
At the ceremony, Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina stressed that partnerships are key to accelerating efforts to improve agriculture. "I have always mentioned that Brazilian agriculture is driven by science. And to strengthen science, it is necessary to build alliances: to promote partnerships and work together between the Brazilian State, private initiative, universities, international organizations, and other institutions."
The director-general of IICA, Manuel Otero, stressed that the preservation of soils has repercussions in other areas of society. "I want to highlight the importance of this topic of global interest, the need to promote soil conservation in our region, where approximately 40% of soils have some kind of degradation, which impacts food production, economic growth, food security, rural well-being, and resilience in climate change mitigation. Similarly, soil recovery and conservation are essential to keep climate limits considered safe, which reflects multilateral agendas and agreements on these issues."
The launch event featured a lecture by Ohio University professor and IICA Goodwill Ambassador Rattan Lal. Winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and the 2020 World Food Prize, the scientist spoke about the need for actions that promote carbon sequestration by soil. "The goal is precisely to have living soils, with good plantations and also to have carbon sequestration, the carbon footprint, to mitigate climate change. So putting carbon back in the ground is extremely important for this region," Lal said.
Performance and expectation
Experiences and results of public policies Mapa were presented by Minister Tereza Cristina, who highlighted the pioneering of Brazil in the development of low-carbon agriculture, with the use of technologies that will be promoted in the Solos Vivos Brasil program.
One of the actions is the Low Carbon Agriculture Plan (ABC Plan). In ten years, Brazilian farmers have adopted decarbonizing production models in more than 52 million hectares. The recovery of degraded pastures, integrated production systems, and no-tillage were some of the technologies that favored the advancement of sustainable agriculture. In October of this year, the Map announced ABC+, which foresees the deployment of low-carbon technologies on over 72 million hectares of farmland by 2030.
"The transformative potential of low-carbon agriculture is enormous. And, undoubtedly, Solos Vivos will contribute to the expansion of the adoption of these technologies. Together, ABC and Solos Vivos will be showcased on how technologies improve the income and quality of life of the rural producers involved and also sequester carbon in the soil", said Tereza Cristina.
Another policy is Águas do Agro, the National Soil and Water Conservation Program in Watersheds, which aims to promote water recharge in aquifers.
There is also Pronasolos, the first public policy for knowledge, land use, and conservation as a national strategy, which gathers information from dozens of institutions on Brazilian soils, with unique maps of water availability and regions more susceptible to erosion.
"This platform needs to be fed. And two essential assets that need to be reflected in it are carbon and water. The Living Soils program, together with Pronasolos, can be one of the showcases to demonstrate that, in addition to producing food, fiber, and bioenergy, the Brazilian rural producer can kidnap carbon in its properties and still store and produce water", said the minister.
Led by IICA and the Center for Carbon Management and Sequestration (C-MASC) at Ohio State University, the "Living Soils of the Americas" program is an international initiative that serves as a bridge between science, public policy, and development work in restoring soil health in the Americas.
IICA and C-MASC support partners on topics such as policy formulation, land management practices, and incentives to transform agricultural systems into ecosystems that accumulate more carbon in soils, paving the way for the implementation of better methods of management and development of public policies and regulations to recover soil health and quality.