AGROFORESTRY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR SMALL PRODUCERS
IN ACRE, BRAZIL
University of Florida and PESACRE
Start date: AID-sponsored activities began in September of 1990. Collaborative work with the Federal
University of Acre began in 1987 with support from the Ford Foundation.
The objective of the UF-PESACRE collaborative program is to help reduce pressures leading to
deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon region. As in many other parts of the tropical world, Amazonian
deforestation is linked in part to the instability of small producer communities due to the pressures of
development programs implemented in the region over the last two decades. One of the challenges of
sustainable development is to explore the potential for diversified forest extraction and agroforestry systems
to improve the livelihood of local communities and reduce future deforestation. Such systems must be
adapted over time to the diverse needs of different kinds of rural populations, including agricultural
colonists, extractivists, and other forest-dwelling groups native to the Amazonian region.
Over the long-term, the sustainability of such tree-based production systems will in large part depend upon
the technical and managerial capacity of local technicians and the communities adopting these systems.
The UF-PESACRE project's technical focus on identifying agroforestry systems appropriate for different
kinds of small producer communities depends on the development of a strong institutional base within the
state of Acre, and trusting relationships between producer groups and local agencies. The project seeks
to improve the technical capacity of PESACRE's members and others in the state, and to strengthen the
non-governmental organization's administrative, technical and financial standing. The development and
maintenance of working relationships with local communities and grass-roots organizations, local
government, and other non-governmental agencies, is a key aspect of the overall approach. The University
of Florida provides support to PESACRE through training, technical assistance and collaborative research,
and provides a link to the broader networks of communities and technicians involved in similar work
throughout the world.
The core of grant activity consists of an agroforestry field program carried out in four focus communities
representing the diversity of Acre's small producers, rubber tappers, indigenous communities, and
agricultural colonists. With support from UF in key research and training areas, PESACRE helps
producers in these and neighboring communities to develop and test appropriate agroforestry technologies
that can improve their livelihoods while reducing the pressures to clear forests.
Community participation and appropriate agroforestry techniques
To be sustainable, economic alternatives must be identified, developed and implemented with the direct
participation and management of local producer communities. This involves not only dissemination of
useful technological packages, but also strengthening the community members' own analytical, technical
and management skills. Following contact with rural leaders and participatory diagnostic research,
PESACRE begins its community-level work with strategic planning exercises to facilitate the definition of
priorities, and then provides training in agroecological systems and environmental education in addition
to specific technical training programs. Communities involved in such participatory approaches can be
empowered to influence policy, to pursue their own production alternatives, and help neighboring
communities develop their own self-directed projects. For example, in 1995 the colonist community at
Granada refused to accept government credit offered for cattle production, and instead was able to
negotiate to use the credit to expand agroforestry activities. They also began helping a nearby community
group to organize and initiate discussion of agroforestry systems.
So far, three communities have successfully established their own community nurseries with 8,000
seedlings that are now being distributed for planting in individual lots, and sold to generate funds for
community projects. Community experimental plots have been established, and 28 improved agroforestry
practices have been adopted by producers. Exchange visits with neighboring communities facilitate
farmer-to-farmer diffusion, along with PESACRE's dissemination program through videos, publications,
and non-timber forest product fairs.
* Institution building and technical training
Building local organizations and technical capability, including training skills, is an essential part of the
project strategy. Through 67 technical training courses, including annual programs in strategic planning,
and in participatory research and extension methods, PESACRE has trained 134 local technicians including
90 from government organizations and 44 from non-governmental organizations. In order to strengthen
collaboration between different organizations, PESACRE sponsors technical-scientific exchanges,
consultancies, seminars and information exchanges and provides technical assistance and advice to rural
workers unions, government, and other groups.
PESACRE has established itself as a respected technical organization with over 60 professional members
and a staff of 13 professionals. The organization has its own building, vehicles and equipment, and has
successfully begun to diversify sources of funding to assure future sustainability.
PESACRE is taking steps to establish its financial, organizational and technical autonomy from the UF and
to diversify sources of support over the next 2-3 years. Within this period PESACRE will consolidate its
agroforestry experimentation and capacity-building in target communities, and expand to neighboring areas
to build on this work. With continuing technical support from the UF, PESACRE will deepen and broaden
its technical expertise and continue to disseminate the participatory approach to community-based research
and extension, in order to asure the long-term viability of alternative livelihood strategies.
For more information, contact Project Manager Marianne Schmink, PO Box 115531, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611; Tel. 352-392-6548/0375; Fax 352-392-0085/7682; email email@example.com.