Reuters – Brazilian soy farmers are being paid for promoting sustainable agriculture, according to the organizers of a new initiative involving 55 growers in Maranhão and Mato Grosso states, in the heart of Brazil’s farm country.
The program, which rewards producers for their “environmental services,” highlights mounting pressure on farmers and businesses to produce food while driving a transition to deforestation-free supply chains, neutralizing carbon emissions in the process.
In doing so it creates a financial incentive for protecting the environment and resolves a common complaint of farmers in Brazil — that they do not benefit from environmentally friendly practices.
The initiative is backed by the chemical arm of Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, which pays the farmers, and the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) — tasked with judging the environmental services, which include carbon fixation in the soil, water conservation and looking after biodiversity on their properties.
According to scientists, farmers can employ regenerative techniques to help fixate carbon in the soil that include planting fields year round with crops or other cover, together with agroforestry activities that combine animal husbandry, crops and planting trees.
Marcelo Habe, Sumitomo Chemical’s marketing director in Brazil, told Reuters the initiative drove a “theoretical” reduction in deforestation estimated at 4,000 hectares (9,884 acres) based on data from an algorithm.