Latin America is an extremely unequal region in terms of distribution of wealth. Large-scale landownership has contributed to the establishment of large-scale monocultures in many countries in the area. The plantations have introduced new environmental problems and distorted a landholding system that has been unjust to begin with.
Agribusiness gains ground in Latin America. Governments support the industrial plantation farming of corporate giants by providing tax reliefs and convenient political decisions - that is, by removing obstacles in any way they can. On the other hand, the region is bristling with areas of immense biodiversity and lively horticultures.
The most pressing issues regarding monocultures are related to tree plantations (for instance, eucalyptus and pine tree cultivations for the needs of the pulp and paper industry, and oil palm cultivations for food and agrofuel purposes) and the cultivation of genetically modified soybean. In particular eucalyptus, soy and agrofuel production are occupying space from organic small-scale farming and forests.
Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil caused by plantation farming and livestock ranching is an immense environmental issue. In Uruguay, monocultural plantations are impairing traditional agriculture by taking over land, replacing earlier agricultural export products, and surrounding family farms with plantations. Aside from its environmental impacts, the transformation of agriculture carries compelling social consequences as well.
The rights and food self-sufficiency of small-scale farmers
The aim of the Siemenpuu Foundation cooperation programme in Latin America is to examine the harm caused by industrial monocultures, and to support ecologically, socially and economically more sustainable ways of production.
Through communications and advocacy work in particular, the programme promotes the rights and food self-sufficiency of small-scale farmers, agricultural biodiversity, sustainable use of forests, and the local management of forest resources. Local community initiatives, the networking of regional players, and the advancing of open social dialogue are at the core of the programme.
Several local communities and popular movements in the region are critical of the technocratic concept of Green Economy, which was under heavy debate for instance in the Rio+20 conference. The Siemenpuu Foundation has supported the dialogue initiated by our partners on Green Economy and REDD issues and brought these perspectives to Finland as well.
Our partners in Latin America are: Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe (ATALC), Accion por la Biodiversidad (AcBio), World Rainforest Movement (WRM); and in the region of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil: Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira (COIAB), Conselho Nacional das Populações Extrativistas (CNS), and Grupo de Trabalho Amazônico (GTA).