Sustainable management of natural resources

In Eastern Paraguay, only small patches of a previously closed rain forest have remained after decades of slash and burn for cattle farming and soy cultivation. Unsuitable land use resulted in degradation of arable soils and forests. The remaining agricultural production was insufficient to sustain farmers' livelihoods. Many lived in extreme poverty.

From 2004, the consortium AGEG-ECO Consult implemented the technical assistance component of the "Proyecto manejo Sostenible de Recursos Naturales" (PMRN), with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock as implementing partner.

In seven departments the project worked together with 17,000 small farmer households (with 1–20 ha of land) organized in local associations, on an area of 15,500 hectares. They were supported to make use of new techniques in agriculture and forest management and increase the yield per area, while protecting natural resources at the same time. Soil recuperation and protection, extensive agriculture and adapted (agro-)forest management were practised. Agricultural production system change, from traditional to economically and ecologically sustainable, was instigated through incentives in nature for the inputs, to switch to conservation agriculture and cash for the work (forestry). Community-based organisations and fora assisted farmers in eccessing subventions and credit lines. Support was provided through state extension services and other public and private technical units.

The project supported farmers in the marketing of their products through private-sector cooperation and an optimisation of marketing chains. Within ten years the annual income per family has raised by 580 EUR.

Activities comprised:

  • Improving and securing the effective management of finance by means of simplification and acceleration of the mechanisms for application, handling and controlling

  • Strengthening the cooperation among stakeholder institutions by means of coordination among the Ministry for Agriculture, KfW, GTZ and the consulting services financed by BID-PRODESAL

  • Conceptual and technical advise to the partner organisation in management of natural forests, agro-forestry and sowing techniques, evaluation and adaptation of support services

  • Strengthening institutional capacity by incorporation and education of further consulting service providers (NGOs, municipalities, province authorities, cooperatives etc.) and private companies.

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