Photo : Marie-Élaine Laroche/Oxfam-Québec

For a productive and resilient Amazonia

Supporting the most vulnerable populations against deforestation and climate change

Mairena Pena Cortez, 25, comes from a family of 13 children. About ten years ago, her parents bought land with the intention of farming it.

Farming in the Amazon region requires a lot of determination, as the Amazon forest has undergone important deforestation in recent decades. Thousands of kilometres of forest have been cut down to make room for raising livestock and growing soy. These former wetlands are now affected by droughts, which creates problems for farmers.

Mairena describes how the project has allowed her to improve her crops:

I remember our first fruit trees–orange, lime, avocado and cocoa. They would stop growing at a height of one metre. In training, we were advised to plant legume trees and to spread legume green manure (gandule and Canavalia, among others) around our fruit trees. Since then, their growth has improved and our crops are plentiful. The soil is so poor that nothing would grow without the help of legumes!

Despite a significant reduction in poverty and inequality, Bolivia remains one of the most underprivileged countries in South America. As of 2016, according to the World Bank, 40% of the population still lived below the poverty line and one person out of four was undernourished.

Thanks to generous donors like yourself, the project described herein will enable hundreds of Bolivian families to implement sustainable practices for managing natural resources, to improve their agricultural yields and, ultimately, to increase their income. This means that they will be able to better feed their families and to enhance their living conditions.

Young people and women will be better equipped to contribute to the sustainable development of their country, take on responsibilities and meet the challenges ahead, especially when it comes to climate change and deforestation in Amazonia. By joining together, we can ensure that they succeed in exercising their fundamental right to food.

Context and rationale for the project

Today, more than 850 million people experience chronic food insecurity, while nearly one third of the planet suffers from malnutrition and severe dietary deficiencies. Paradoxically, 80% of those who go hungry live in rural areas and are engaged in agricultural work. In Bolivia, poverty is particularly severe in Indigenous communities and rural areas.

This is mainly due to the country’s poor agricultural productivity, which is partly caused by the overexploitation of agricultural lands, poor management of water resources and agricultural practices which have led to soil degradation and deforestation.

The ensuing climate disruptions have very tangible impacts. Between floods, droughts and forest fires, small farmers—women and men—are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Furthermore, drops in local production mean that food products are becoming increasingly scarce and that prices are increasing. As a result, families end up in a state of food insecurity where their access to nutritious food is compromised.

Project implementation

Oxfam-Québec, together with its local partner, has created a project to stimulate the development of agroforestry, an agricultural technique which involves planting trees as a complement to crops or pastures.

As an agro-ecological model, the agroforestry system has very few negative impacts on the environment, while also allowing farmers to adapt to the region’s environmental vulnerability, which notably manifests itself through droughts.

By coaching and equipping Bolivian producers with the necessary skills to react to climate change and disruptions in their country, the project contributes to the improvement of their economic and environmental well-being in the long-term.

The project relies on various management practices and innovative technologies to improve the productivity of agroforestry systems (including the use of drought-resistant seeds and of a new water-saving irrigation system). These will improve the resilience of plots in relation to the environmental and climate-related problems affecting the region.

 Objectives and expected results

  • Improve the economic and environmental well-being of target populations in the long-term.
  • Enable women and young people to contribute to their country’s economic development.
  • Set up 20 model agroforestry plots.
  • Provide training in the management of agroforestry systems.
  • Promote this new, environment-friendly production alternative among decision makers.
  • Train and coach youth and women’s collectives in the management of collective plots.
  • Reach 15 rural and Indigenous communities.
  • Establish new, adapted planting techniques that guarantee a better yield
  • Increase food security.
  • Improve ancestral practices in order to restore biodiversity.