Expoagro Afubra hosts forum on diversification focused on forest production

27 . MAR . 2024 Releases

II Rio Pardo Valley Regional Forum on Forests brought together specialists from the Federal University of Santa Maria and from SindiTabaco to debate on the challenges faced by the small-scale farmers regarding energy self-sufficiency, as well as turning forest production into a source of income.

March 2024 – Intended to be an environment of exchanges and opportunities  that potentiate diversification initiatives, the II Rio Pardo Valley Regional Forum on Forests  was held this Friday, March 22, during the program of Expoagro AFubra 2024, in Rio Pardo (RS). With the subject matter “Integrate, strengthen and promote the development of the forest supply chain”, the event relied on the participation of SindiTabaco technical advisor Fernanda Viana Bender.

She presented a list of the main initiatives carried out by the tobacco sector on behalf of the preservation of native forests and energy self-sufficiency over the past decades, providing specific details on the program Initiatives towards Forest Sustainability in Tobacco Farming, held since 2019, in partnership with the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM).

The aim of the program consists in cultivating energy trees to meet the needs of the tobacco farmers, whilst preserving native forests. Through 22 demonstration units established in Rio Grande do Sul, the UFSM research team, coordinated by PhD holder Jorge Antônio de Farias, from the UFSM, are testing the management of fast growing trees, and the results are disclosed in informative videos that contribute towards maximizing the results. All videos produced so far can be accessed at youtube.com.br/sinditabaco.

According to Fernanda Bender, from SindiTabaco, the industries are making strides in terms of forest production knowledge. “Besides the farmers, the agriculture extension agents of the companies associated with the SindiTabaco equally take advantage of the program’s knowledge on the subject matter, whether through publicity materials or through technical visits to our demonstration units. Of course, there are still things we have to learn in the area and this is the top objective of the program. We need to develop a way of thinking that forest production is a tobacco farmer’s business. Without wood, there is no tobacco curing. However, beyond the demand by the sector, farmers could also get organized to diversify with forest production, thus earning extra income”, he argued. 

Professor Dr. Jorge Farias, coordinator of the program at the UFSM, contextualized the demand of the wood industry. According to him, there are some remarkable bottlenecks when it comes to introducing family farming into the wood market. “As the farmers possess small farms, land availability is one of the problems that make it difficult to plant trees, and the same holds true for the transport logistics of the production. At the same time, we witness a sector extremely concerned with the supply of wood of legal origin, while the farmers strongly demand wood. The solution goes through the creation of cooperatives or associations capable of articulating this market, and the tobacco sector could be a protagonist in this process. The forest component should become an integral part when it comes to establishing a rural property, as an alternative source of income”, Dr. Farias commented.

Other forum participants include Rômulo Trevisan, engineer and PhD holder professor at the UFSM; and Vitorio Slompo, coordinator of RS Dexco Forestry Operations, on energy efficiency of the different tree species and the operation of the wood market.