Agroforestry in Juruti

Replicable regenerative agroforestry models as an alternative for slash and burn in Brazilian Amazon


In Juruti, only 8.6% of the population has a formal occupation.; 48.5% of the population lives with less than a dollar per day. HDI (2018) is 0.592. Subsistence agriculture and agro-extractivism are the main subsistence activities in the area. Staple food consists of fish and cassava. All cassava fields are established using slash-and-burn cultivation. The area is used for 2 years and left for fallow. The constantly growing population and climate change are intensifying wildfires during the last years. It’s mandatory to create new agriculture regenerative models in accordance with cultural behaviors and livelihoods within the region. The project, developed in partnership with WRI Brazil (World Resources Institute - Brazil) and financed by Alcoa Foundation, aimed to develop participative agroforestry systems’ designs as an alternative for slash and burn in Juruti region, Brazilian Amazon, diagnosing, co-creating, designing, prototyping and implementing modular replicable agroforestry units in a successional-decisional logic.


During 2 months (Jul-Sep, 2018) were conducted RRAs in 25 communities, freelisting method and participatory mapping with selected farmers and a total of 12 pairwise comparison sessions in heterogeneous groups totalizing 157 participants (57% women) were conducted and a co-creative modular plantation design was developed; furthermore, were carried out semi-structured interviews with extensionists within the area. All collected data were analyzed using 5 major principles with 7 criteria and sub-indicators to select (1) communities, (2) beneficiary families; (3) crops; (3) trees and (4) inputs.

Final adjustments were made in the design arrangement merging local ecological knowledge, empirical information, and scientific data. As a result, it was created a specific design to be used broadly in the Amazon basin were agriculture is based on cassava as the main staple food. The design considered the cassava as the key component without modifying the status-quo cultivation planting of local farmers, however, using fire only partially while maximizing the deposition of biomass within the area and inserting high-value indigenous tree cover and fruit tree species in the system.


The final design consisted of a sustainable and regenerative model, counting with 200 high-ecological value long-term trees arranged 10 x 20 m; 10,000 cassava trees and 300 fruit trees. Also, 10 biomass-service lines using “muvuca” process were placed every 10 m, totalizing 500 square m per ha. The final result maintain cassava production rate around 12 ton (similar to the slash and burn model), while prolonging the production from 2 up to 4 years time, guarantying over 200 ton of fruit for consumption and cash crop for over 20 years; with over 75 ton of green biomass deposition per year and an expected ROI of 22.57%.

Further Results and On-Going Work - Agroforestry Performance Index

An index to evaluate agroforestry establishment performance was developed, compartmentalizing and considering each operation as an isolated phase, being a simple and accessible tool which allows comparison of different systems at different times. Considering an API result of 91.49%, it is possible to conclude that the implementation of the 11.1 ha was successful.

Operations involved in planting were 100% successful in all areas evaluated. Regarding the service line, API was 85%, due to the fact that in some MUs were still in progress. The main causes of mortality were (1) lack of rain and (2) poor seedling soil quality. Nevertheless, the average mortality of seedlings was very low (less than 10%).

As for seeds, the germination rate was very satisfactory, resulting in more than 56,800 seedlings per hectare. For the project’s further steps, it is important to conduct farmers’ training on seedlings and compost production, reducing logistic problems and costs. As for the influence indicators, which reflect project’s dissemination potential through the community, the direct interaction with leaders was key in the connection between actors, ending up in the participation of outsiders during the workshops interested in replicating the system.

Regarding adherence indicators, most farmers intend to expand the agroforestry and/or deploy new units. In order to understand participation by gender, specific indicators were used. It is noted that planting, nursery, and contact-related activities were carried out by women, showing empowerment towards decision-making phases. Men were responsible for heavier jobs such as area demarcation and cleanse, activities not directly related to decision-making. Implementation carried out in working groups had outstanding importance for community participation and engagement, as well as for the system effectiveness.


The main challenge to be overcome is the agroforestry considerable higher work intensity compared to traditional slash and burn, due to the forest management without burning and also the biomass-pilling process. One of the most common difficulties among farmers was the system's logic and crop arrangement overall understanding. This is mainly due to the fact that farmers are not used to systematizing biodiverse systems.

The creation of an understanding of systematization makes it possible to have a proper production planning, consequently better planning income, which is essential to supply the local and regional demand for agricultural products. It is expected that the understanding phase’s overcome will be technically consolidated with local practical experience, making agroforestry part of the regional culture.


Furthermore creating a new ecological buffer of A. roseodora, a highly endangered species. After 5 years the system is supposed to become self-sufficient in biomass production. After the fourth year, the system migrates from a cassava field to 3 possible possibilities (according to the farmers' options), being (1) agrosilvipasture with fodder trees, a (2) fruit tree field with enrichment of shaded-cupuaçú / cacao plantation or a (3) biodiverse timber forest. With the presented design it is expected to drastically improve the food resilience while imputing new cash crops and creating an elastic and highly acceptable model for amazon cassava-based agriculture, building a new productive paradigm that is sustainable, resilient and long-lasting.