A Precious Legacy
Brazil, which owns more than 20% of the world's freshwater reserves, has set good examples. The project called “Nossa Água” (“Our Water”), a partnership between Bayer and Cooperativa Integrada, has been recovering forests by river banks and springs (called riparian forests) in rural areas for more than 10 years.
Founded by a group of farmers in 1996 in the city of Londrina, in the South of Brazil, Cooperativa Integrada operations include the reception and commercialization of grains such as soy, wheat and coffee, orange juice production and commercialization, among other activities. In its more than 20 years of life, Integrada has become a reference due to the work done in the recovery and conservation of water resources in the farms of more than 8,000 cooperative members, covering around 50 cities in the States of Paraná and São Paulo.
In 2006, “Nossa Agua” implemented a campaign to raise awareness among farmers about the importance of water. We reached out to member farmers inviting them to meetings, lectures and other events. The focus topic was to promote reforestation of riparian forests, and further understanding of the role they have in improving water quality, ensure the stability of the river margins and provide nutrients to the aquatic ecosystem.
The initiative from Integrada found a partner in Bayer and through their joint effort the project took shape and was able to offer environmental education workshops, acquire seedlings of native trees to recover degraded riparian forest and rebalance the fauna, and release fishes in the rivers that run through the member’s farms. Integrada also partners with public agencies, at state and municipal levels. These institutions have technicians dedicated to train and work as consultants to farmers committed to preserving the native vegetation and water springs in their farms.
A Precious Legacy
“Nossa Água” numbers paint the best picture of what has been achieved through, what seem very simple actions. In just over a decade, more than 15,000 people were trained, 700 hectares of riparian forest and 70 water springs were recovered, 1.2 million native seedlings were planted and 701 thousand fishes were released in the area where the cooperative operates. The project was recognized for its inclusion of people with disabilities in the production of native seedlings and other environmental education actions that reached more than 13,000 students and 1,000 teachers from municipal schools. “Nossa Agua” was one of the three finalists nominated to the award granted by the National Water Agency of Brazil in 2017.
In order to continue the preservation work, Integrada has a team of “multipliers.” They are professionals who connect the cooperative and its members. They stay in contact with the farmers to help identify needs and give support to protect the environment.
In 2018 “Nossa Água” is implementing a pilot project together with the Environmental Institute of Paraná in order to identify, through satellite images, the areas recovered in two micro-watershed in the region and to develop a work-plan for the areas that still need regeneration. Additionally, we are planning to do periodical physical-chemical analyzes to evaluate the water quality of rivers.
The partnership between Integrada and Bayer demonstrates that together it is possible to establish a more intelligent and sustainable agriculture which delivers a shared value for the business and society and preserves the environment one of our most precious legacy for future generations.