Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean occupies the central and southern portion of the Americas. The region is home to the world’s largest river (the Amazon River), the largest rainforest (the Amazon Rainforest), and the longest mountain range (the Andes). Export-oriented agriculture constitutes an important part of the economy, especially in Brazil and Argentina. This large continent has a range of climates spanning the ice of Patagonia, the tropical forests of much of the continent, and more temperate regions in, for example, Mexico and Chile. Due to the greatly differing geography and economic development in the continent, all types of agriculture can be found in Latin America. Subsistence farming and cash cropping with coffee, cocoa and so on are common in many nations including most of central America, whereas large-scale beef production in the cerrado of Brazil provides an example of hyper-large farms run by large businesses.

Image: NASA Earth Observatory, Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
9 December 2019

This piece examines the data behind forest fires in Brazil, which attracted international attention during the summer of 2019. It concludes that the number of fires in August 2019 was nearly three times higher than in August 2018, and that the extent of deforestation was the highest since 2008, thus refuting the Brazilian government’s claim that August 2019 was “normal” for deforestation. Some contributors to the piece declined to be listed as authors so that they could stay anonymous.

Image: feelphotoz, Olio Di Palma, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
9 December 2019

According to this study of oil palm plantations in Colombia, converting pasture to oil palm plantation is almost carbon neutral, because declines in soil organic carbon are offset by gains in oil palm biomass over a period of several decades. The authors argue that planting oil palm on former pasture land is preferable to converting rainforest to plantations, as regards greenhouse gas emissions.

4 November 2019

This brief from Trase (a partnership between the Stockholm Environment Institute and Global Canopy) examines soy grown on unregistered farms in Brazil. Legally, farms in Brazil should be registered with the Rural Environmental Registry as the first step of complying with the Forest Code, which stipulates how much native vegetation should be left intact on private properties.

29 October 2019

This policy brief from the US non-profit think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics argues that the Amazon rainforest could reach a “tipping point” as soon as 2021, where deforestation means that the forest no longer generates enough rain to support itself and the forest begins to release large amounts of carbon instead of storing it.

13 May 2019

FCRN member Sara Middleton has been involved in producing the documentary Bananageddon, which looks at the socio-economic and environmental issues of current banana production methods and what the future holds for the world’s favourite fruit.

Image: Jing, Soybeans Beans Soy, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
8 April 2019

This commentary argues that the recent imposition of trade tariffs between China and the United States could lead to increased tropical deforestation as other suppliers make up for the 50% fall in exports of soybeans from the US to China seen during 2018.

Image: NASA, Deforestation in the state of Rondônia in western Brazil, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
8 April 2019

Around 15% of the carbon dioxide emissions from food consumption in the European Union are due to deforestation, according to this paper, which traces the links between final consumers and the expansion of agriculture (including both crops and pasture) and tree plantations into tropical forests. Depending on the model used, 29% to 39% of tropical deforestation emissions were attributed to the production of goods for export.

Image: Neil Palmer CIAT, Amazon9, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
26 March 2019

In this research on the Brazilian Amazon, FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen of UCLouvain finds that forest conservation and agricultural growth are not mutually exclusive, and sheds new light on the land sparing/sharing debate. The authors argue that enforcement of Brazil's forest laws is key to encouraging the efficient use of land and the sustainable development of the agricultural sector.

20 March 2019

This book explores the economic, environmental and social aspects of the development of Brazil’s agricultural sector over time. Chapter topics include the role of public policies, innovation and research, family farming and land governance.

Image: Joe Wolf, A 40,000 s.f. Rooftop Farm in NYC (Photo By Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times), Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
4 March 2019

This study analyses case studies of agri-food system innovation in different socio-economic, cultural, and political environments (Brazil, New York and Senegal) to determine common factors that help grassroots projects scale up successfully.

Image: charlesricardo, soybeans harvester grains Brazil, Pixabay, Pixabay license
15 January 2019

Bolsonaro, the new far-right president of Brazil, has given the Agriculture Ministry responsibility for “identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people”, according to Reuters. Environmentalists are concerned that the Amazon rainforest will be opened to greater commercial exploitation.

Image: lubasi, Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
19 November 2018

6.5–15.4 million hectares of private land in Brazil could become legally available for deforestation, because expansion in the land area designated as conservation units or indigenous reserves could trigger a legal mechanism whereby the area of legal reserves for native vegetation may be decreased.

6 November 2018

This briefing by the Global Forest Coalition looks at subsidies and supports for the livestock sector and how they harm forests and other biodiverse ecosystems. In particular, the briefing assesses the impacts of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement, which is currently being negotiated.

22 October 2018

The book “Feeding the world: Brazil’s transformation into a modern agricultural economy”, by Herbert S. Klein and Francisco Vidal Luna, examines the development of Brazil’s agricultural production, provides a historical understanding of the changes in Brazil’s economy, and explains Brazil’s impact on the world food system.

Image: Neil Palmer, Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
16 October 2018

The current front-runner for Brazil’s presidency, Jair Bolsonaro, member of the right-wing Social Liberal Party, proposes to abolish Brazil’s ministry of environment, hand control of agricultural policies to politicians who advocate reducing land conservation and expanding agricultural lands, withdraw Brazil from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and open indigenous lands to mining.

Image: Rory MacLeod, 195.365, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

A traditional variety of corn grown by people from Sierra Mixe in southern Mexico can thrive in poor soils without needing much extra fertiliser. A group of researchers have shown that the plant is able to draw nitrogen from the air through mucus-laden aerial roots on its stems. It’s hoped that the trait can eventually be bred into commercial corn strains.

Image: Dario Sanches, Todirostrum cinereum, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

Birds catch insects less frequently in silvopastures (grazing land with substantial tree cover) than in forest fragments, according to a study in the Colombian Andes. This suggests that silvopasture provides relatively lower quality habitat for the bird species studied. However, the paper proposes some measures to improve the quality of silvopastures as habitats for birds, including encouraging certain tree species and forming particular microhabitats, such as vine tangles and hanging dead leaves.

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