Research mapping regenerative agriculture in Latin America
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
To learn more about regenerative agriculture, or 'regenag' or 'RA' in short, particularly in regions that are less reported upon, we felt a need to do a mapping exercise and try and find the latest insights and developments. The findings serve as a starting point for conversations with key actors in the field.
Our research question was formed as follows:
What are the actors and factors to either enhance or inhibit a shift in thinking and practice to regenerative agriculture in Latin America?
This led to the following research report:
Regenerative agriculture in Latin America by Massimiliano Miatton and Michael Karner.
About the researchers:
Massimiliano has a plural mix of experiences in social and natural sciences
including collaborations with leading experts in regenerative agriculture and grazing, permaculture, holistic management and fieldwork such as regenerative farming, teaching, designing and consulting in tropical, dryland, and cool temperate regions. Michael has a background in social sciences, development studies, and permaculture. Over the past years, he has been engaged in grassroots landscape restoration work in the Mediterranean (including with John Liu’s Ecosystem Restoration Camps in Jordan) while also working as an international sustainability consultant.
What's in this report?
This research report was written for Mustardseed Trust to expand its knowledge about Regenerative Agriculture (RA) in Latin America.
Massi and Michael first defined what they understood as ‘Regenerative Agriculture’, included historical background and provided a wealth of information on inspiring companies, projects and networks within RA.
Innovations, Enhancing and Inhibiting factors for RA in Latin America
RA innovations are summarised in the report according to the level of food system they are leveraging at the beginning of each chapter. This framework is adapted from Gliessman’s Levels of Conversion (Gliessman, 2014). Factors of influence are listed under Political, Social, Economic, Environmental, and Technical.
Latin America is a continent of contrasts. On the one hand, Latin America’s largest agricultural exporters (e.g. Brazil, Chile and Argentina) count numerous export-oriented commercial farms. These operations are usually mono-cultures that rely on synthetic inputs and heavy machinery. On the other side of the spectrum, small-scale subsistence farming is characteristic of the entire region. It is intimately linked to agroecology, which emerged largely through social movements of small farmers protesting against the Green Revolution during the 1960's and 1970's.
In the report you will find descriptions/background of the problems/opportunities followed a list innovators in the field of Livestock, Agroforestry, Broad-acre annual cropping, Funding for Regenerative Agriculture and Regenerative Agriculture Networks.
Under each of the enhancing or inhibiting factors section, there is a detailed list of innovators in the field who either take advantage of the enhancing factor or are providing a solution to the inhibiting factor. In this way, Mustardseed Trust and other interested parties can hone in on the areas where they feel they want to work with and find the leaders in that field.
Michael and Massi emphasise that early RA adopters are essential, as are the networks in spreading the good practice. Many of the actors within the report are at the early stages of scaling up: but Massi and Michael state that government support and changes in the market for carbon, water and biodiversity markets- based on official prices for the ecosystem services provided are required for real, life-changing scaling up to happen.
They identified a crucial role for funders such as Mustardseed Trust in starting conversations with those actors involved at the ‘nodal points’. It is vital that whilst retaining its integrity, RA should be multi-scalar and multi-sectorial. It should engage all types of farms, from the micro- to the large-scale and interact with as many target groups as possible. The development of blueprints and the sharing of best practices is crucial to providing proof of concept examples to onboard large-scale producers, funders and policymakers.
Download the full report here: