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Amazon rural development and conservation: a path to sustainability?

02 / 07 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Raimundo Moreira Vulcão poses with his oil palm harvesting equipment. He has benefited economically from the addition of oil palm to his mix of crops on his small family farm. Image by Sara Miller “A house built of palm oil, açaí, chickens and flour.” This is how Raimundo Moreira Vulcão, a small-scale farmer from northeastern Pará state, Brazil, proudly describes his new home. Referring to his now nearly complete two-story house, and to his 25-hectare (62 acre) farm, he explains: “I did subsistence farming for 14 years. We always had food on the table, but [oil] palm has allowed us to grow.” Vulcão practiced subsistence agriculture since he was a child, then in 2012 the 55-year-old farmer realized it was possible to increase his family income not by cutting down the surrounding forest to expand his farm’s fields, but by diversifying crops while working to protect his land’s biodiversity. He started growing oil palm on the already deforested portion of his land, spurred by the crop’s introduction to Brazil and his region. Along with soybeans, oil palm is one of the most controversial and fastest expanding crops of the last decade in Brazil due to the industrial use of palm oil – currently the most widely consumed vegetable oil worldwide. Oil palm plantation proliferation is causing deforestation and land conflicts in far-flung tropical regions, ranging from Indonesia to Peru. In Brazil, a huge country encompassing 64 percent of the Amazon biome, the production of this oil is the subject of…

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