Brazil’s Agroforestry Farmers Report Many Benefits, but Challenges Remain

  • Researchers asked agroforestry and conventional smallholder farmers in São Paulo state, Brazil for their views on the benefits of agroforestry — a farming technique that combines native vegetation with fruit trees, crops and sometimes livestock — and what they see as the barriers to switching.
  • Consistent with benefits identified in past ecological studies, agroforestry farmers ranked bird abundance and soil moisture higher than conventional farmers and reported that trees on their farms cooled the air and reduced storm damage. These farmers were also more likely to be self-sufficient.
  • Many smallholders who still rely on conventional crop and cattle monocultures say a lack of knowledge is holding them back from switching over to agroforestry, but technical support and environmental education could encourage them to adopt this restorative approach.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s laser focus on offering support for large-scale commercial agribusiness has left smallholder farmers lacking in financial and technical assistance to make the switch to agroforestry.