MODEL FARM FOR A NATURE
RESERVE IN THE AMAZON FOREST
Country and Area of
The Xixuau-Xiparina Nature Reserve, Rio Jauaperi,
The Associacao Amazonia and the Associazione Amazonia
Onlus have been running the Xixuau-Xiparina Nature Reserve on the Rio Jauaperi
which divides the Amazonian States of Roraima and Amazonas since the beginning
of 1992. The reserve measures 172,460 hectares and was demarcated in
A recent agreement with IBAMA foresees the
enlarging of the reserve to approximately three times its current
The reserve guarantees environmental protection
for the area and in it a number of projects are taking place for improving the
lives of the local inhabitants, for the sustainable development of the
communities along the Rio Jauaperi and scientific research is being carried out
by Universities and Institutes from several
The Association provides a health service
and schooling for the local children.
from the Kleinwort Trust has contributed to improving the living conditions of
the people of the area and recently led to the installation of solar energy and
a satellite internet link up in the reserve. Computers have been installed and
the children of the reserve are receiving computer courses and further education
Malaria has been brought under control in
the region and the Association employs a full time Brazilian nurse to run the
A telemedicine project is being started
with the University of East Carolina and with the participation of the
Universidade do Amazonas (prof. Luiz Antonio Nascimento) again thanks to funding
from the Kleinwort Trust).
Schooling is now being
provided for 80% of the children of the region and through the internet they
will be able to participate in secondary education which until recently meant
leaving the area and moving to the city. The Association runs two traditional
schools, one in the reserve and one in the nearby community of Samauma, as well
as a new computer school in the Xixuau.
been bought for the local communities providing means of transportation for
their agricultural produce to the cities and a way of carrying patients to
hospital in the event of emergencies.
the cycle of improvement of the standard of living of the local inhabitants we
intend to create a Model Farm using sustainable, ecologically sound technology
to meet all their food requirements.
Since the establishment of the Xixuau-Xiparina reserve the
local inhabitants have stopped hunting animals for food. They now live mainly on
fish which are extremely abundant in the rivers and grow crops like manioc,
bananas, papayas and sugar cane.
However many of the
basic necessities have to be brought by boat from Manaus. Goods like rice,
beans, sugar, coffee, milk and meat are transported on board the
Association’s boat on its monthly trips to and from the
The aim of this project to make the inhabitants
of the area self sufficient in their food production.
The Xixuau Xiparina Reserve covers an area of 172.000
hectares and is currently inhabited by 7 families for a total of 25 people. Most
of the reserve is uninhabited and in parts unexplored. The objective of the
Reserve has always been to leave it as intact as possible. The mouths of these
two rivers are where the current habitations exist and access to the land behind
is controlled at these two points. Midway between the two rivers ( a distance of
roughly 25 kilometres) there is a third small river. recently there have been a
number of cases of commercial fishing boats entering this region and damaging
It would be useful to establish a
permanent presence here.
The first step in the project
is the clearing of an area of land of approximately 3 hectares. This will be
done manually exploiting all the wood from the trees felled for the houses of
the farm workers and the farm buildings and animal pens, and for the local
furniture production co-operative which the AA is establishing in the nearby
village of Sao Pedro and which will then use only natural tree falls instead of
cutting down standing trees.
Technicians from the
Brazilian Agricultural Institute (EMBRAPA) will then oversee the planting of
grasses for the livestock and the sowing of the seed
Two of the families who traditionally possess
land on the Jauaperi have expressed the desire to return to live in the area and
run the farm, taking advantage of this employment opportunity to send their
children to the new Kleinwort School in the
Contacts have been made with foreign
Institutions for experimental agrarian technical participation (The Istituto
Italo-Latino Americano in Rome, and the Faculty of Tropical Agriculture at the
University of Firenze).
The Aim of the Ecological Farm is to create an
agricultural and zoo-technical settlement inside the Xixuau-Xiparina Ecological
Reserve, providing a range of farm products to obtain three basic results:
- Make the Reserve self sufficient in food
- Correct and complete the current diet of the local
inhabitants which lacks certain basic elements
- Further socio-economic development in the
The Farm will be created
respecting the tropical forest setting and minimise environmental impact and at
the same time maximise use of the natural resources available in the
The area to be used has already been chosen. it
is important to carefully plan its preparation, and research the use of natural
resources available, the choice of materials and building styles, on the basis
of the species considered best for raising.
project must be created with the intent to reduce construction and running costs
to a minimum, taking best possible advantage of the species chosen. They will be
chosen for their resistance to the Amazon environment, their capacity to adapt
and their maintenance costs.
Buildings must provide
protection for the animals from possible predators.
least two family groups will live on the farm and they will need to be trained
and prepared in the basic rules to follow.
consists of two parts, agriculture and farm animal raising, so that existing
synergies must be kept in mind. This means that the activities will be created
side by side and there will be a degree of interlinking between them.
Accurate preparation work will be done in two
directions: the epidemiological part to reduce the errors in species
introduction and the structural part to obtain the optimum synthesis between
time and work costs.
1) Choice of area, study of its characteristics,
2) Epidemiological study of the area,
with emphasis on diseases borne by parasites, bacteria and mycosis in relation
to typical livestock species which will be chosen on the basis of their
adaptability and alimentation requirements.
of the structures, materials, equipment and sanitary measures
4) research into synergy between
agricultural, zoo-technical and forestry products.
Organisation of the practical and economic aspects of the
6) Evaluation of the introduction of one or more
wild or endemic species (eg. Peccary, paca, etc.)
Choice of Territory,
identification of the suitable area, characteristics and
In view of the hydro-geological and environmental
situation of the region the choice of area for setting up the Farm had to follow
certain basic criteria and have precise
Firstly, in view of the seasonal
flooding which occurs the area must be in an area which is above the high water
level . A basic requirement is the hydro-geological stability of the zone. On
this basis the area we have chosen is valid for several
The land is flat which facilitates movements
of material and structures and allows easy access both for preparation and
future operation. It requires some clearing and provides no natural barriers to
the realisation of the project.
The land is excellent
in its organic composition.
From a botanical point of
view the situation is interesting because the area is covered by large trees and
smaller trees and shrubs. This is interesting for several reasons; firstly
because during the clearing and preparation phase the tall trees will be
preserved. The advantage of this is that the result will be an area with large
open spaces that have been cleared and are therefore not suitable for the
multiplication of insects and micro-organisms. Moreover the area will be shaded
which is useful both for agriculture and most of all for livestock raising. The
ideal situation is to provide shade and ventilation for the animals. The area
also has large numbers of Acai palm trees which will be preserved as their
fruits provide an excellent dietary supplement for all livestock
Water is abundant and not stagnant. It will
have to be gathered and kept in suitable containers from a sanitary point of
view for beverage of livestock, and in this way it can be treated and controlled
and even used for giving doses of medicines when necessary . Water for
irrigation does not require these characteristics and can be used
All the material eliminated will be carefully
evaluated. The first rule to follow is to make maximum use of every available
resource. All the plants and trees felled will be selected, both for wood and
leaves. The wood obtained will be used for the buildings while the green
material can be dried and used as bedding for the animals and the pre-existing
layer of dry leaves can be used first as fodder and bedding and then as
During the preparation of the terrain areas
will be chosen for storing useful material for different purposes. Everything
that is not of use, like thorns, roots etc, will be
The result will be a flat, smooth and clean
It has been estimated that 3 hectares will be
sufficient for the various structures, although this can vary according to the
species raised and the type of crop cultivation
The shape will be more or less a trapezium with
the smaller base at the access side, towards the river. In this way it will be
possible to concentrate all the service structures in a smaller area, leaving
the stables a certain distance from the water and possible insect hatching sites
and dangerous animals like caymen, anacondas
Access to the Farm will naturally be from the
river and must have specific characteristics. It is necessary to calculate that
boats will need to berth by the land and unload heavy materials, as well as
large and small animals which need to pass.
arrival of boats it is necessary to solve the problems of the changing water
level. It is also necessary to unload the boats from the sides bearing in mind
that they will transport heavy items like sacks of fodder which must be kept
dry. Therefore we need to build a floating dock with an unloading walkway of
considerable length to compensate for the inclination of the
Beyond the walkway will be a large storage area,
with a roof, where the materials can be kept dry. From here they will be taken
to the area of use.
Once the area is ready we to
organise its defence from potential dangers.
We need to
consider that for an agricultural and zoo-technical farm of this type there are
two basic categories for defence against potential
1) Defence against
2) Defence against
To the second group belong small
life forms like insects and reptiles, and defence against these will be dealt
with in the part regarding the stables and pens. The first group needs to be
looked at now because it is an integral part of the preparation of the area to
Being in the middle of the forest
macro-elements are considered as all the things which need to be kept away from
the structures. Therefore large and small predators must find an effective
barrier in their paths.
The best, and perhaps only,
protection, is the classical palisade made of wood. The abundance of material
helps, although the amount of work involved is considerable. It is possible that
for certain animals, like the jaguar, it will not be sufficient, but there is no
other alternative. Three metres would be sufficient in
The position of the large trunk trees is
important. Using the trunk as a support they must be placed on the inside of
the structure and the low hanging branches removed. Further defence will be
provided by maintaining an area clear outside the palisade making it difficult
to cross and reach the structure.
An epidemiological study of the area to identify diseases
borne by parasites, viruses, bacteria and mycosis in relation to typical
livestock species chosen for adaptability and alimentation. For this research we
have an offer of collaboration from a microbiologist at the University of
Grosseto in Italy and have access to studies done by both INPA and Embrapa in
There are a large number of livestock species and each one
presents advantages and disadvantages.
We are dealing
with a somewhat unique environment and so we must consider special defence
mechanisms, as well as calculating distances, transportation times, costs,
We can create a simple and practical
classification for the various species. There are small animals which can be
easily concentrated in large numbers, yielding a high numerical product and
being fairly easy to raise, like typical courtyard
Then there are medium sized animals which
require larger structures and more complicated feeding processes but which
naturally have a higher yield, till we arrive at large animals where everything
is multiplied and where the costs and the production are much
We must also consider species which apart from
meat provide different products.
The following types of animal come into this
- Farm birds
Bird raising – In this field we are
considering a number of different species. Chickens for meat and eggs, turkeys
for meat, ducks and geese for meat and eggs. The quality of their meat is varied
and nutritious. Eggs contain a series of proteins and useful amino
In this sense the raising of chickens is the
first that must be implemented. Ignoring intensive raising which has high
structural and running costs we will exploit a semi- intensive form of chicken
raising in order to obtain meat and eggs.
A chicken run divided into two separate, but connected,
parts will be built. One part will be outdoors and the other
The outdoor area will serve two
chickens will be able to move around and maintain their muscle tone. This is
important for the quality of the muscle fibre which will be better developed.
This has a considerable effect on the quality of the meat. In fact in intensive
raising the forced immobility makes the meat softer and less tasty. The chance
to move around provides a better quality of life for the chickens and, more
important, it increases their resistance.
will be given food and water, in an area set up for this purpose. The area must
be clean and flat, but earthen, to allow natural behaviour of the chickens.
This area will be completed by another area which will be enclosed and covered.
It will be used for the night time and for brooding. The closed part must be
accessible and connected to the outside area. Inside there will be an open area
where it is possible to move around for cleaning and to gather the eggs, and a
closed part for brooding. A series of box pens will grant the chickens peace
both for brooding and for sleeping. The whole chicken pen will be bordered by a
relatively low enclosure and have a covered area for feeding and sheltering from
the rain with one closed side. A sort of cul de sac where the chickens can
shelter from the rain and wind and where the feeding trays will not rot or be
polluted. An uncovered area, which will be the largest, where they can move
around and a built up area for the night and for egg laying and brooding. The
whole structure can be repeated in the event of requiring greater production.
The external structures will be enclosed by strong wire fencing as protection
against wild animals.
The structure planned for
chickens can also be used for turkeys, with certain modifications. In this case
there is no egg production, only meat. Moreover they are larger and so the
structures also need to be bigger.
Rabbit raising provides a high yield. The high birth rate
of this species makes them excellent for meat production. Rabbits as a species
are very sensitive to stress and so require a peaceful and calm
The ideal structures are concrete
compartments which are well ventilated and enclosed by wire
The structure is one of cages in some of which
are the fertile females and in others the reproductive males. In certain cases
they can also be mixed. The huts will be long and fairly narrow, depending on
the number of rows inserted. As for the chickens it will be important to limit
as much as possible the entry of possible disease carriers. At the entrance to
every hut there will be small water troughs with a biological disinfectant
liquid for the cleaning of feet every time someone enters. Outside there will be
sinks for disinfecting the hands and arms before contact with the
Reproductive couples will be bought to start
the production. They will increase naturally with time.
Goat, pig, peccary and possibly tapir and cattle raising
will represent the greatest challenge, but also provide a higher yield of both
meat and other products like milk which will be very useful for supplementing
the existing diet of the local people.
cattle are the species which would provide the highest yield, but also involve
the highest costs and the greatest difficulties. They require large buildings
and considerable amounts of food, both fresh and concentrated. They must be well
looked after and this requires a certain amount of training for the people who
will be responsible. For this reason they will be studied and introduced to the
farm at a later date.
Goats can provide both meat and milk. They are hardy and
resistant and relatively prolific. They have no special feeding requirements and
provide milk which can also be used in the production of
A goat pen and structure will be built. In it
the animals will have a covered area for feeding and shelter and an open area
again surrounded by a wire fence. They will be fed in troughs and an area will
be set aside for milking.
The outdoor pen will be large
enough for them to exercise and it is even possible to allow them to wander
freely around the farm for a number of hours a day. They will also be fed with
natural grasses and a certain amount of concentrated
Almost everything from these animals is of use. They are
omnivorous and eat just about anything. They require very simple structures for
shelter, feeding and the raising of piglets. The pens will be divided in order
to keep the nursing females separate from the males. They must have an earthen
floor and a mud pond for ‘bathing’. They are at risk from large
predators but can generally be allowed to roam freely for several hours a day to
get exercise. These animals are already raised successfully in other parts of
The peccary is a wild pig and the paca a medium sized forest
rodent. Both are widely hunted in the Amazon and perhaps the most common meat
source for the natives.
A forested area of the farm
will be penned off and these animals introduced. Natural food sources and some
fodder will be put in the pen for them to eat.
The farm will require a number of buildings. Apart from the
homes for the farm workers we will build a ‘Farm Centre’, an office
from where the farm work will be organised, the documents kept, the computer
system and all the information concerning the animals and the crops. As well as
a pharmacy room for medical products
There will be
storehouses for feed and equipment and for the produce harvested. Bathing houses
will be built and large outdoor sinks installed for the washing and
sterilisation of buckets, feeding bottles etc.
will be set aside for building an incubator and for quarantining sick or newly
arrived animals. There will be a butchering area with an incinerator for
The animal pens will vary
considerably from species to species.
Many of the
structures will be build of wood but a certain amount of brick buildings will
also be needed. An area will be set aside for the solar energy system and water
storage tanks will be erected. There will be a compost and manure creating
In order to grow plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce,
carrots, onions, garlic and so on it is necessary to create a controlled
environment. Insects and soil deficiencies make this kind of crop impossible to
grow extensively in the Amazon.
We will build a series
of porous canvas covered greenhouses for vegetables. The structures will be of
metal poles covered by the canvas. A small ‘moat’ will be excavated
around the outside of the greenhouses and filled with water and a biological ant
and insect repellent.
A solar powered drip irrigation
system will provide watering for the plants during the dry season. Solar energy
will also power the irrigation system for the field crops and the filling of the
water tanks for the livestock.
The earth inside the
greenhouses will be enriched using biological fertilisers and
During the rainy season when irrigation is not
required, the solar energy system can be used for other purposes. Contact has
been made with an Italian NGO for the harvesting and packaging of Brazil nuts in
the Jauaperi. This requires some machinery for breaking open the nuts, drying
them to the correct degree and possibly even packaging them before taking them
to Manaus for shipment abroad. This would provide considerable income for a
large number of the resident families in the Jauaperi who traditionally practice
this activity but for a very low return due to the extremely poor prices paid
for their harvests by the trading boats who come from the city to buy
A work team of 30 men from the region will begin
clearing the required area for grazing and cultivation and the building of the
homes for the resident ‘farm workers’. This will take several months
as all the useful wood will be cut for use in the houses, farm buildings, and
the furniture work shop. The roots will then be dug out and the land turned over
for planting grass and crop seeds.
Embrapa and foreign
technicians will be brought in for overseeing the organic fertilisation and
seeding of the land.
Six months from the start of the
project livestock will be transported by barge from Manaus and introduced to the
area and the crops will have been planted.
feeding rations will be given to the livestock until the grazing areas are
The extension of the Xixuau-Xiparina along the right hand
bank of the Rio Jauaperi makes it difficult to effectively control the entire
area at all times. At present the river between the two main rivers of the
reserve is suffering from invasions of commercial fishing boats, hunters and
illegal loggers from the city of Manaus. It is rich in wildlife and intact due
to its distance from the city and the presence of the Associacao Amazonia in the
Xixuau-Xiparina reserve and the Waimiri Atroari Indians nearby, both already
limiting these illegal activities. However the occupying of this land by the
local Caboclos and the setting up of a model farm, will effectively allow
control of the entire river Jauaperi from the Xixuau to the Xiparina in the
north, which will then be protected from environmental degradation. In effect by
‘sacrificing’ a few hectares of land for farming many thousands of
hectares will more effectively enter the conservation and sustainable
The inhabitants of the
Xixuau-Xiparina Reserve willl become self sufficient in all their food
requirements and it will provide surplus benefits to all the inhabitants of the
Employment will be provided for the
majority of the men folk from the families of the
Jauaperi for a period of several months and a further
two families will move permanently into the area and their children receive
education at the Kleinwort School in the
Experimental agricultural techniques like
Permaculture and tropical forestry management will be tested and implemented for
the first time in the interior of the Amazon Rain
In the light of the success of past
projects we believe that a further step forwards towards creating a model for
sustainable development in the Amazon Forest will be achieved by this