Brazilian environmental activist José Truda Palazzo Jr says that Brazil’s coffee and cocoa industry has been heavily impacted by the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, which has already been reduced by 20 per cent.
One challenge is the severe droughts caused by the end of the “flying river”, which previously saw large volumes of water vapour transported into the atmosphere from the Amazon basin to other South American regions.
Palazzo also reports that “black rain” full of ash from burning forests has impacted cities located thousands of kilometres away, with the forest no longer acting as an efficient carbon sink.
“Although deforestation in this immense region began decades ago, in the current government, all sorts of irregular activities which destroy the forest, from illegal gold mining and timber contraband to the utter vandalism of burning the trees to make poor and short-lived pastures for cattle have received a boost with the explicit assurance of no enforcement of [Brazil’s] environmental laws,” says Palazzo.
However, he believes that the Amazon Rainforest will survive due to a growing awareness of the environmental and economic importance of keeping it alive.
One such organisation advocating for its conservation is Australian trader Minas Hill, who is working with coffee and cocoa farmers to educate and support the preservation of the Amazon Rainforest. Its partnership with the Brazilian Cocoa Industry (IBC) saw Minas Hill bring two single-origin cocoas to Australia, each from a specific part of the Amazon Rainforest.
“We are already supporting entire communities in the Amazon, combating the deforestation, and providing resources to produce some of the most amazing cocoas from Brazil,” says Marcelo Brussi.
Brussi says his friendship with Palazzo has given him, and Minas Hill, an understanding of how the destruction of the Amazon will impact coffee and cocoa production.
Palazzo says he has seen reforestation for carbon credits and the increased supply of provisions of ecosystem services taking hold through hundreds of different projects.
Despite still needing to form appropriate logistics and value chains, coffee is becoming a well-established rainforest crop, in addition to other agriculture products such as acai, the Brazil nut, and Amazonian cocoa. These are all crops that thrive in the rainforest, offering farmers alternatives to burning the land for cattle.
The State of Pará alone exported more than 140,000 tonnes of Amazonian Cocoa in 2020.
“For these forest-protecting enterprises to succeed, it is important that people and companies around the globe contribute too, by consuming and trading only in Brazilian products with a credible sustainability certification and making sure that investments made in Brazil are also guided by sustainability considerations,” says Palazzo.
“Besides the Amazon, other invaluable biomes such as the central Cerrado highlands and the Pantanal wetlands also depend on a sustainability awakening to survive and generate quality jobs and income. It is up to every one of us to ensure that it happens – now.”
For more information on Minas Hill, visit www.minashill.com.au/.