Sustainable Agriculture: A Matter of Urgency

Sustainable Agriculture: A Matter of Urgency

By Benjamín Bof

The Harvard graduate, Domingo Felipe Cavallo left the country in ruins and has about a hundred processes in the Argentine courts. The ideas transplanted from these graduates are undoubtedly dangerous for small producers and more than 120,000 left agriculture because of this extermination from within.

We will try to answer the questions raised in the excellent note of bulletin 103 published in Eco Portal ( where it raises the need for sustainable agriculture as an urgent matter. There industrial agriculture is compared to traditional agriculture that consumes seven times less energy and reveals the dramatic reality of more and more farmers abandoning their fields.

Our Argentine reality

On November 27 at La Nación Gabriel Vázquez Amábile, who declares himself a graduate of Purdue USA University, proposed clearing 6,500,000 hectares to generate large profits without saying that the region proposed for clearing is semi-arid and that the runoff regime of water is altered with clearing mainly for the recharge of the aquifers that in that region present high salinity.

Unfortunately the sky gave us the reason: it rained 900 millimeters in three days and in Las Breñas, Chaco, the residents could drink water while standing. In 1987 we reported to the current senator for the province of Chaco Jorge Milton Capitanich published in "El Informador", "Small Flooded Farmers of the Chaco" where the young accountant made an analysis of economic sustainability, pointing out that the producers who own small extensions had bought machines farmers with bank credit and a house in the city, ceasing to produce the food they consumed, adopting a consumption profile typical of large landowners. The region suffered another severe blow in the employment of labor in 1997 with the importation of cotton harvesters by the firm Andrés Parra de Sáenz Peña. The once prosperous region with cotton production produced the rural exodus and the urbanization of the population. Currently the city of Resistencia, the state capital, has the highest poverty rate in Argentina, reaching 75 (seventy-five percent) of poor people with 35 (thirty-five percent) who do not have what to eat. At the Machagai technical school, a group of students built a gas generator to power an agricultural tractor. With this equipment, dependence on oil disappears and with the remains of a sawmill or bush branches it is possible to have low-cost rural energy. In 1987 we published in La Nación "Production of charcoal from firewood" where we showed a 205-liter drum charring low-value vegetation. In 1994 we published "Electric Power from Charcoal" in La Prensa on June 21 and featured a Ford F100 eight-cylinder engine driving an electric generator. In this way, with the gas generator, low-cost mechanical energy is available for the intense uses of rural mechanical energy such as sawmills, generators, pumping and dredging.

Water: source of life

Although at first glance the rainwater in those regions seems inconvenient; With the proper management of the vertical and horizontal water supply, it is possible to design high production systems for the goods that society needs without leaving a bare and polluted environment for future generations. In the province of Buenos Aires, Uribelarrea Partido de Lobos, engineer José F. Barbagallo systematized flood plains through the concepts of "agrohydrology", achieving a significant increase in production. This methodology provides the technical elements to manage water and retain a part by sending the surplus to public channels. In 1874 a debate arose in the society of Buenos Aires on the occasion of the droughts and floods. Among the many opinions he wrote, we had the original copy in our hands; in La Prensa, his editorial secretary, Dr. Estanislao Severo Zeballos, also minister of foreign relations regarding climatic catastrophes, said "I impute to the lack of seriousness of our character" Florentino Ameghino later said eight years have passed and nobody has done anything. Zeballos proposed "the universally accepted plantation system trees on a vast scale. "Ameghino argued that countrymen should plant trees and Dizar the lagoons so as not to be lazy in the "bowling alleys". In Folha do Sul de Itapeva, São Paulo, on June 5, 2004 we published "O que è Permacultura" and "Bambú, um treasure pouco explorado". There we said about the 2000 skills of bamboo; among others the production of energy, use as raw material to produce paper, food, agrochemicals and to replace construction steel in "bamboocreto". At the request of the producer Anselmo de Taquarivaí, we manufacture on the banks of the Apiaí Guazú River with sand extracted from the same riverbed with a canoe and traditional method of wire poles, replacing iron with bamboo painted with burnt oil. The cost per pole is one dollar (gives six poles per 50-kilo bag of cement). Papyrus is a plant that also has similar abilities to bamboo. With bamboo-powered dredges in the gasogens we can build population hills to withstand the floods. In 1987 we defended the Pirané Forest Center in Formosa, Argentina from the flood with explosives in a few hours with a canoe and six men. In that same year we built a drainage canal in a yacht club in Zárate, Buenos Aires during a working day. Through seismic charges it is possible to recharge aquifers in flooded regions. We train forest firefighters in the use of explosives in Formosa under the direction of the Forestry School of the UNNE (National University of Nordeste) and we sign certificates as course director. With this character, we attended the fires in the Amazon, Sinop Mato Grosso in 1999, which earned us to be considered a "researcher" in the ESALQ (Luiz de Queiroz Higher School of Agriculture), the third agricultural faculty in the world.

Sustainable systems

In 1988 we presented to the VI Argentine Forestry Congress "Economic Reactivation through the Construction of houses with wood" a multiple production model; alfalfa, carob and beekeeping based on the work of engineer Luis Horacio Ochoa in Isla Verde Santiago del Estero where he produced alfalfa seeds suitable for human consumption in the form of shoots, in a region of high salinity. Dr. Antonio Aparecido Carpanezzi is the promoter of the "bracatinga-milho-feijão" system where mimosa scabrella trees, corn and beans are planted intercropped for two years, there is a return in edible products and with the growth of the forest after five years it is felling for use as log or lumber. Mimosa gives a resin that bees use in their hives, it blooms in winter at a critical time for beekeeping and the leaves are edible. More information can be found in "environment Brazil". We recently communicated to Carpanezzi our intention to produce ethanol from corn with a micro column to meet the needs of small producers for liquid fuels to move to the populated centers (site Renewable Fuels Association) and manufacture a food of pre-Columbian origin the "farinha de Milho "that in Campina do Monte Alegre Dr. Carlos Eduardo Vieira Ribeiro produces by macerating the corn for five days and then roasting it on a hot metal plate. Dr. Vieira Ribeiro created the "real campino" an alternative currency. The "xingu" tribe inhabiting the Amazon were consumers from the time immemorial of the "farinha de milho". Subsistence farmers cleared an area and when productivity declined, they moved to another, the forest being repopulated by natural regeneration.

Food Self-Sufficiency

In 1987 we broadcast a radio program "Argentina Rural la Palabra del Campo" on LRA1 Radio Nacional. One time we reported a producer from "Huerta La Anunciación" who delivered a "Green Box" with vegetables for weekly consumption. INTA wisely at that time created the "Pro Huerta" program where with organic methods anyone can produce the food they consume. Those producers started the "Club de Bernal" since it is very simple to achieve food self-sufficiency and to satisfy other needs they implemented "credit" and "multi-reciprocal barter" to exchange goods and services. An outstanding person in solidarity economics is the sociologist Heloisa Primavera.


Undoubtedly the Argentine Rural Society, host of the climate summit, wants to cover the sky with its hands and has the mentality of Guillermo Enrique Hudson, inventor of the fence. For them, small farmers are "communists" as the Margarita Belén massacre showed. Another Harvard graduate, Domingo Felipe Cavallo left the country in ruins and has close to one hundred processes in the Argentine courts. The ideas transplanted from these graduates are undoubtedly dangerous for small producers and more than 120,000 left agriculture because of this extermination from within. In Misiones, where he was governor; Ramón Federico Puerta devastated the smallholdings and in Apóstoles his city; once a record in purchases of Ford trucks: it is in ruins. Ford Motor do Brasil currently manufactures "FlexFuel" vehicles that automatically adapt the engine to consume naphtha and ethanol in any proportion. We adhere to the "Carte d’Agriculture Paysanne" of the "Confederation Paysanne" led by José Bové. The year 2004 was exceptional for those of us who love the forest. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Wangari Maathai who planted 30,000,000 trees dealing with anti-corruption, democracy, sustainable development, education and nutrition. We have also been working on all these issues for nearly 20 years. We are proud and would like to have achieved similar goals as this distinguished ecologist.

* Benjamin Bof

Video: Made in Israel: Agriculture (September 2021).