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Local Productive Arrangements for Biodiesel Production in Brazil – Environmental Assessment of Small-holder’s Integrated Oleaginous Crops Management

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Author(s): Geraldo Stachetti Rodrigues | Izilda Aparecida Rodrigues | Cláudio Cesar de Almeida Buschinelli | Marcos Antonio Ligo | Adriana Moreno Pires

Journal: Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics
ISSN 1612-9830

Volume: 110;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 59;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: sustainable agriculture | environmental management | rural development | biofuels | family agriculture

ABSTRACT
Sustainability assessments were carried out in small-holders’ farms in four territories where productive arrangements have been organized for production of minor oleaginous crops under the Brazilian biodiesel program. The study aimed at checking local impacts of the biodiesel productive chains at the rural establishment scale, and promoting the environmental performance of the selected farms, henceforth proposed as sustainable management demonstration units. Assessments were carried out with the APOIA-NovoRural system, which integrates 62 objective and quantitative indicators related to five sustainability dimensions: i) Landscape Ecology, ii) Environmental Quality (Atmosphere, Water and Soil), iii) Socio-cultural Values, iv) Economic Values and v) Management and Administration. The main results point out that, in general, the ecological dimensions of sustainability, that is, the Landscape Ecology and Atmosphere, Water, and Soil quality indicators, show adequate field conditions, seemingly not yet negatively affected by increases in chemical inputs and natural resources use predicted as important potential impacts of the agro-energy sector. The Economic Values indicators have been favorably influenced in the studied farms, due to a steadier demand and improved prices for the oleaginous crops. On the other hand, valuable positive consequences expected for favoring farmers’ market insertion, such as improved Socio-cultural Values and Management & Administration indicators, are still opportunities to be materialized. The Environmental Management Reports issued to the farmers, based on the presented sustainability assessment procedures, offer valuable documentation and communication means for consolidating the organizational influence of the local productive arrangements studied. These productive arrangements were shown to be determinant for the selection of crop associations and diversification, as well as for the provision of technical assistance and the stabilization of demand - conditions that promote value aggregation and income improvements, favoring small-holders’ insertion in the market. More importantly, these locally organized productive arrangements have been shown to strongly influence the valorization of natural resources and environmental assets, which are fundamental if sustainable rural development is to take place under the emerging agro-energy scenario.
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