XINGU SEEDS NETWORK IN BRAZIL

The Southeastern Amazon has a history of intense social conflicts between indigenous communities and agricultural interests encouraged by the federal government to develop farms and ranches out of the Amazon forest. In 2004, a ‘shared responsibility’ campaign, named Y Ikatu Xingu, was launched to articulate and implement a new vision of development compatible with conservation of the Xingu’s headwaters. This campaign became to promote a collective action for territorial planning with landowners, communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and political representatives. These efforts with increased enforcement of the ecological restoration requirements in the Brazilian Laws led to increased demand for native seeds. In 2007, the Xingu Seed Network was established for native seeds supply as a partnership between indigenous communities, settler farmers, landowners, local governments, and NGOs.

Figure - Standing forests of the Upper Xingu region prior to recent deforestation. In the centre of the headwater is the Xingu Indigenous Territory

Figure - Standing forests of the Upper Xingu region prior to recent deforestation. In the centre of the headwater is the Xingu Indigenous Territory

The Xingu Seeds Network involves 30 organisations and 450 seed collector groups in 19 municipalities of the Xingu’s watershed in the Brazilian Amazon. These groups encompass 14 rural settlements, one extractive reserve, and 6 indigenous ethnicities of the 4 indigenous lands and 11 villages. Moreover, there is a management office based in Canarana city (Mato Groso State) and 4 seed storage houses. Over one decade, this network has facilitated the production of a substantial volume of seeds (175 tonnes) and generated about 750 thousand US dollars for 450 households.

Native seed production for ecological restoration has been successfully harnessed to help diversify household income sources and livelihoods. Community organization is a key element for this operation system, especially for providing opportunities to empower women and youth groups. This operating system and institutional model have inspired and spread in different Brazilian regions. Therefore, this experience suggests that large-scale seed production requires strong social arrangements to connect multiple-stakeholders for a long-term partnership.