Small farmers around the world burn woodlands to create fertile fields, releasing vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. In Belize, one project wants to move farmers away from this old method toward greener pastures.
Project goal: Supporting small farms to become more sustainable and to replace old, polluting machinery
Project implementation: Farmers are learning environmentally friendly farming techniques in workshops and on-site training
Project partners: NGO Ya'axche Conservation Trust is working with the Honduras Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA), Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) and the Inga Foundation, among others
Project scope: Ya'axche works in the Toledo district in southern Belize. They're cooperating with 80 farmers to implement greener agriculture. The project covers the nearly 300,000 hectares of the Maya Golden Landscape, a forest area threatened by slash and burn farming.
For centuries, farmers have been using slash and burn agriculture to produce fertile fields for their crops. The method involves cutting down trees and woody plants in an area and then burning what's left to create nutrient-rich soil. Though it works well in the short-term, the fields become unproductive within a few years, meaning farmers have to start the process over again. It's estimated that between 200 and 500 million small farmers worldwide use the technique releasing 6 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.
In the small Central American country of Belize, NGOs are working with farmers to help them move away from slash and burn agriculture and toward more sustainable crop production. They hope the changes can help protect the forests and improve farmers' lives.
A film by Katja Döhne