Mexico: Forest-friendly dairy farming in Chiapas | Global Ideas | DW | 01.12.2020

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Global Ideas

Mexico: Forest-friendly dairy farming in Chiapas

Small-scale farmers in Chiapas are learning to raise crops and cattle without damaging their forest home.

Mexico: Sustainable farms for biodiversity

Project goal: Help small-scale dairy farmers to fence in their livestock, reforest their lands and add value to their produce

Project implementation: The BioPaSOS project had aimed to serve 1,200 small-scale farmers in Chiapas, Campeche and Jalisco, but uptake exceeded expectations and the project has supported around 2,000 farmers and their families

Budget: BioPaSOS is funded with a grant from the German Environment Ministry's International Climate Initiative of €2.97 million ($3,46 million)

Partner organizations: The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development and the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, the Autonomous University of Chiapas, and various local government agencies and NGOs

Duration: The project was planned to run from 2016 to 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been extended until 2021

The cloud forests of Chiapas in southern Mexico have long sheltered subsistence farmers and their crops of corn and beans. But during the 1980s, there was a boom in dairy farming, which was far more profitable. Villagers let their cattle roam free in the La Sepultura Biosphere Reverse, with devastating consequences for the forest. And as the forest suffered, so did its people – from drought, and a decline in biodiversity and plants to forage.

The BioPaSOS project helps farmers to look after the forest, by adopting agrosilvopastoral techniques that mean cattle, crops and trees can thrive side-by-side. With support to fence in their animals and reforest their land, communities are able to protect their environment. And where once they sold their milk for rock-bottom prices, BioPaSOS has provided training in the manufacture of a variety of high-end cheeses, meaning profits are up.

A film by Aitor Saez

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