Smallholders have an important role in improving food security for their families and communities. One of our partnerships in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, Centro Sul de Feijão e Milho, works directly with family farmers to help them grow beans and corn more productively and in more sustainable ways.
Strengthening family farmers by improving their yields and access to market has been credited with greatly reducing hunger in Brazil. Each year more than 3 million tons of beans are produced in the country, with family farmers contributing roughly 70% of the total.
For these smallholders, yields can be considerably lower than their potential due to a lack of knowledge about handling infestations of pests, weeds and diseases such as the Anthracnose fungus which, left untreated, can ruin an entire bean harvest.
Boosting smallholder bean and corn yields
Through the Centro Sul de Feijão e Milho partnership, growers in groups of 20-25 are given hands-on, interactive training in the field. They’re trained in disease and pest identification, the wearing of protective clothing, safe use of crop protection products, and a soil management system of ‘no-tillage’ – where weeds are controlled with crop protection products and the ground is not tilled in order to prevent soil from being washed away in heavy rains.
As a result of their training, growers achieved yields that were on average 1.7 times higher than the national average for corn and up to 2.5 times higher for beans.
The initiative is conducted in partnership with Emater, IAPAR, EMBRAPA, the Secretary of Agriculture of Paraná, the Brazilian Federation of No-Till and other organizations. Last year, more than 12,000 growers were reached.
“Through the project, I’ve got to know the available technologies and best practices which have helped me increase yields and manage resources such as soil more efficiently. All of this has helped me improve my productivity and profitability,” says Amilton Viniski, bean and corn grower from Ipiranga/Paraná.