By Silvia Morimoto
ASUNCION, Paraguay, Jul 2 2019 (IPS)
The statistics are alarming. By 2050, the world will require an
estimated 60 percent growth in agricultural production to meet the
food demand of a population of close to 9 billion people.
While we ramp up production to ensure food security, it is
crucial that this increase has minimal impact on the environment
and forests. This is vital to preserve tropical forests and to meet
the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Intergovernmental Panel on Science and Policy on Biodiversity and
Ecosystems (IPBES) reports that between 1980 and 2000 more than
100 million hectares of tropical forests were devastated globally.
More than 40 percent of this loss occurred in Latin America mainly
due to the expansion of livestock.
So, what we do in one sector will without a doubt affect
another. About 24 percent of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are now
are caused by agriculture and deforestation, and about 33 percent
of efforts to mitigate climate change depend on forest conservation
and ecosystem restoration.
Paraguay is at the heart of this story. It is home to large
swaths of wetlands and forests. The country is the world’s fourth
largest exporter of soy and the eight largest exporter of beef.
Both sectors contribute to more than 30 percent of Paraguay’s
Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Now, in an effort to confront those challenges, Paraguay is leading
the way in the region to address the causes of deforestation. It is
“Forests for Sustainable Growth” strategy, and it is
promoting new alternatives for the sustainable production of soy
and beef that have been designed jointly with stakeholders.
The overarching goal is to help achieve Sustainable Development
12 Responsible Consumption and Production, and
Goal 15 Life on Land. To make headway on this front, the
Ministry of Environment and
Sustainable Development (known as MADES) has been implementing
since 2015 the Green
Production Landscapes Project.
The project is in partnership with the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) through its Green Commodities Programme
and aims to protect the Atlantic Forest of Alto Parana in the
Oriental Region of the country by promoting sustainability in the
soy and beef commodities supply chain.
This initiative funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF),
co-financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the
National Forestry Institute, the Sustainable Finance Roundtable,
ADM Paraguay SRL, Louis Dreyfus Company, and Cargill, is aimed at
supporting farmers like Juan Antonio Secchia.
In 1990, Secchia received 600 hectares of land from his
grandfather in Caazapa, a department located in the Oriental
Region, where the Atlantic Forest of Alto Paraná is allocated.
When Secchia started farming on his San Isidro ranch, he had
about 300 head of cattle that produced milk. In 2012 in an effort
to increase productivity, Juan Antonio decided to innovate, to
optimize the use of his land by investing in the silvopastoral
system. This alternative production system combines trees, pasture,
and animals, to preserve the environment.
Credit: UNDP Paraguay
In 2018, the private sector and the National Government
supported him so he could expand the silvopastoral system, to
another 40 hectares of his farm. Now, he has doubled his cattle
herd from 300 to 600, increasing milk production by 100 liters a
Besides Secchia, other 3 farms have received support to adopt
the silvopastoral system. More than 133,000 seedlings were donated
to plant trees, to protect the soil, and to provide a better
environment for raising cattle.
The success of the system has led to a new goal: to double the
area of silvopasture to 400 hectares, this year, to advance the
conservation of natural resources, and improve beef production.
The government along with UNDP has created a National Platform
for Sustainable Commodities, a space for dialogue that reunites
stakeholders for the first time to discuss needs and actions to
achieve sustainability in the commodities supply chain and to
protect the environment.
Such efforts were expanded to the Occidental Region through the
Green Chaco Project. The Chaco is the second-largest forest
ecosystem in Latin America, with rich biodiversity, that accounts
for about 60 percent of Paraguayan territory, where less than three
percent of the population lives. Yet, it is home to 45 percent of
the national dairy production, and a vast portion of the nation’s
These initiatives have led to the dissemination of best
practices, and discussions on the platform are resulting in new
ideas. Suggestions for concrete solutions are going to be included
in a National Action Plan for sustainable soy and a Regional Action
Plan for Sustainable Beef.
For the Paraguayan Government, addressing deforestation promises
multiple wins for climate change, for inclusive sustainable
development, for economic growth, and for farmers. But success will
come only if we all act together, now.
Silvia Morimoto is UNDP Resident Representative
Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Paraguay Moves Towards Sustainable Commodities