Improving the health of producers and consumers, as well as soil quality, are among the advantages of this production model
By Estúdio NSC
Also defined today as a philosophy of life, agroecology is a different way of thinking and farming the land, respecting humans and the environment involved in production. There are many benefits that its use can bring to rural production. Among them, the improvement in the health of the producer and his family members, the promotion of soil and water quality and the consequent production of healthier and more valued food in the consumer market stand out.
In Santa Catarina, there are about 1,850 farmers who have organic certification and make use of agroecology principles in the sector that has more impact of the philosophy, the agriculture. According to Epagri, this number is growing and practices related to agroecology are widely used in the state, although they are not yet predominant.
What is agroecology?
In short, agroecology is a field of scientific and popular knowledge that encompasses the ecological, economic and social dimensions, from a holistic approach and a systemic approach, resulting in benefits for farmers, consumers, the environment and the entire society.
- The objective is to work in the environment using natural resources in a rational and balanced way, in order to provide consumers with real food: healthy, safe and socially inclusive - highlights the state manager of rural and fishing extension of Epagri, Darlan Rodrigo Marchesi.
Less use of pesticides and fertilizers
According to Beatriz, agroecology was an opportunity to adapt to the consumer market, since organic vegetables were lacking. Since 2015, Beatriz started using the principles of agroecology. The main goal was to get rid of agrochemicals and chemical fertilizers.
- We have worked for many years with conventional production, so we know that besides being expensive, it is harmful to health - she guarantees.
Agroecology assumes the lowest demand for inputs in production systems, until the elimination of most of them, which can reflect in lower production costs, with reduced environmental and economic costs. For consumers, food and products from agroecology are healthier to more attractive.
The farmer Beatriz explains that it has been two years of adaptation of conventional production to the use of agroecological principles, but that meetings to exchange experiences with other farmers and visits by Epagri agronomists have helped in the process.
- It is very worthwhile, especially for small farmers. Surely those who want to start will always have the guidance and support of the agronomists. The agroecological product has a very broad field, so it is guaranteed income. Besides, it is very rewarding to offer a safe product to the population - she says.
Soil quality Improvement
The use of agroecology principles makes agroecosystems more resilient and sustainable, in other words, with greater capacity to face environmental and climate challenges. The main results of the environmental balance are less need for external inputs, better infiltration of water into the soil and less negative impact during periods of excess or lack of rainfall.
The work developed at Sítio Flor de Ouro, located in the Ratones neighborhood of 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 farm production is of spices, teas, vegetables, roots, tubers, fruits, besides other trees with no food purpose.
The result of the production is entirely directed to a network of about 60 partner families. This partnership is based on the idea of Community that Sustains Agriculture. In this way, the partners make production financially viable in the farm, which, in return, carries out the distribution of organic baskets.
- This model is highly productive and works with the regeneration of nature, while producing food - highlights Bruna de Paula, one of the farmers who works in the farm.
According to Bruna, the synthropic agriculture production mode, popularly known as agroforestry, is the one adopted on the property.
At Sítio Flor de Ouro there are about 1.5 hectares of intensive agroforestry system planting. The production is carried out in a sustainable way, because the correct management of the soil is done. The result is healthy food and little susceptible to pests. In addition, since the production is diverse, there is no great loss, even when some specific crop does not obtain good results.
According to Bruna, the work is daily and hard, but it is worth it.
- We observe the nature and, from this perception, we make decisions on how to conduct our plantations. It's a return to the simple. I don't mean that simple is easy. It requires study, dedication and sweat - she says.
Agroecology Principles applied to animal production
The principles of agroecology are also applied in animal production and seek to follow as a priority the comfort of nature. Therefore, the creations are made respecting the minimum space between the animals.
When the production is organic, there are a number of criteria regarding the manufacture of feed that must be respected. The feed cannot have animal components and must have at least 70% of its organic composition, such as corn and soy. The use of manure is also frequent and must take place after the composting process, which allows the stabilization of animal waste, without offering pollution risks to the environment, and also minimize any biological contaminant that may be present there.
At the Flor de Ouro farm, hens are raised to produce eggs and stingless bees respecting agro-ecological principles. According to the farmer Bruna de Paula, these principles have to do with a broader and holistic vision, in which all beings relate, live happily and have beneficial interactions.
Regarding stingless bees, Bruna explains that bees are integrated into agroforestry systems, as they benefit from a number of flora species that are planted on the site and provide nectar and pollen as food for the bees. In contrast, human beings benefit from pollination, honey and propolis that are produced.
- We do not need to isolate ourselves from nature. We can act with it, promoting positive interactions - highlights Bruna.
Period of adaptation of conventional production to the principles of agroecology
In 2019, more than 121,000 Santa Catarina families were assisted in adapting their rural production to agroecological principles. To this end, Epagri develops 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 Agroconscious Program, launched in 2019 by the Government of Santa Catarina, through the Secretariat of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, with its affiliated companies Epagri, Cidasc and Ceasa. The purpose of the Agroconscious is to enhance good practices in favor of farmers and consumers, promoting actions of promotion, technical assistance, rural extension, agricultural research, marketing and monitoring of food quality. All these actions are ordered and articulated to position Santa Catarina as a protagonist in the production and consumption of safe and principled food.