Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil – Ailson Basilia Guerra first bought half a hectare of land in the Brazilian state of Rondonia four years ago, with intentions to fulfil his life-long dream of becoming a farmer. But he quickly realised the pale, dry land was damaged and seemingly impossible to explore.
Now, four years later, he walks proudly among his banana trees and lists all the varieties of coffee he is growing.
“Back then, I thought I’d had to sell my property, but thankfully someone from Rioterra approached us and taught us how to sustainably develop the land,” he told Al Jazeera from his small porch, hidden away from the searing sun. “There is nothing better than to invest in agriculture, you feel more human to live from your own effort and to work along with nature, everyone should do it.”
Guerra is one of the dozens of farmers in Rondonia supported by Rioterra, a non-governmental organisation that works to reforest the Amazon by offering producers seeds and education about how to farm their land sustainably in exchange for a promise to plant native Amazon species.
“Our work feels like a drop in the ocean but it’s a drop that can make a difference,” said Alexandre Queiroz, coordinator at Rioterra, as he walked through the dense Amazonian forest.
“We tell local farmers that it is possible to produce, survive and have a profit by conserving the forest because, without it, they won’t have water for their crops,” he told Al Jazeera.
In the past decade, Rioterra has reforested more than 800 hectares of the Amazon and it hopes to reforest 800 hectares more this year alone, after the implementation of a new, broader project. But their work could be at risk after its main source of fund is being cut dry.
Read the full story on Al Jazeera here.