SAO PAULO, Jul 16 (Tierramérica).- Of every 10 glasses of organic orange juice consumed in Europe and the United States, 8.5 are produced from fruit grown in groves in the north of Brazil's Sao Paulo state that are members of Grupo Montecitrus.
"We made many mistakes before we achieved an ideal system of production without agro-toxins," agricultural engineer Marcelo de Almeida told Tierramérica. He helped in the conversion of the Wanderley, Fábio and Paulo Rodas groves -- the world's leading producers of organic oranges.
Each year, 6,000 tons of processed concentrated juice comes from 1.5 million trees planted on 4,000 hectares. Average yield is 42 tons per hectare, which is more than conventional, non-organic groves.
That output is thanks to a technology developed by the Rodas brothers, and includes organic fertilizer made from sugarcane waste.
Preparing Mangroves for Climate Change
HAVANA, Jul 16 (Tierramérica).- Experts and residents of Cuba's Ciénaga de Zapata, one of the largest marshes in the Caribbean islands, are preparing for the impacts of climate change on the area's mangroves, coastal vegetation that provides a home to a great array of animal life.
Residents and scientists will take part in the Jul. 20-22 campaign, "If the Climate Changes, the Mangroves Change", in the wetlands of the Cuban province of Matanzas.
There will be a science workshop, "from which we hope people will come away with recommendations for preserving the mangroves, which for now are very healthy," Julio Haedo, an expert in environmental education, told Tierramérica.
Mangroves help mitigate the impacts on the coastline of the tides, and also provide a barrier to contain erosion.
Financing for Indigenous Farming
TEGUCIGALPA, Jul 16 (Tierramérica).- From August and for the next five years, the Honduran government will grant loans totaling 15 million dollars to 45,000 indigenous families in the western part of the country in an effort to promote sustainable development projects.
The National Rural Banking Plan will provide "seed" capital to groups of five or more people to grow basic grains, vegetables and organic coffee, among other crops, Agricultural Minister Héctor Hernández told Tierramérica.
"With an investment of 15 million dollars we are financing around 3,000 rural banks," he said.
The aim is to promote farming, self-sustaining production and environmental protection in the country's impoverished and mainly indigenous areas. The plan has the backing of the United Nations Development Program.
The rural banks began more than a decade ago, driven by the peasant farmers themselves and non-governmental organizations, as an alternative for those who could not obtain loans from the commercial banks.
Mysterious Oil Spill
CARACAS, Jul 16 (Tierramérica).- An oil spill of unknown origin and quantity has since Jun. 29 affected nine beaches along about 50 kilometers of the northeastern Venezuelan peninsula of Paria, near Trinidad and Tobago.
The zone has many fossil fuel projects, both oil and gas.
"We don't have information from PDVSA (the state-run oil company) or teams from the Environment Ministry to take charge of the situation," Rosa Bosch, vice-president of the Conservationist Society of Güiria, the main population in the area, told Tierramérica. She said the oil spill had received solvents that facilitated its precipitation to the sea floor.
Wilmer Duque, of PDVSA, denied that the company's oil platforms, which operate at more than 16 nautical miles, had caused the spill, but not that the damage could reach nearby Trinidad. Oil samples are being tested to determine the origin, he added.
Garbage Collectors, Unite!
SANTIAGO, Jul 16 (Tierramérica).- On Jul. 11 in Chile, the National Movement of Garbage Collectors was born. With more than 200 members, the celebrated by marching under the slogan "Organized collectors will never be stepped on".
The group wants to create respect for their activity, which informally employs more than 30,000 people, providing monthly income of some 350 dollars, and to turn it into a "force that can demand from local and national authorities formal recognition of their work", given that they "compete" with the municipal garbage collectors in trucks, spokesman Ezequiel Estay told Tierramérica.
"Chile was the only country that didn't have representation in the Latin American movement" of informal garbage collectors, he added.
"The deaths of six collectors in May, the result of a fire at their home used as a collection center, pushed our plans" to organize, said the leader, who believes that he and his fellow workers are falsely stereotyped as alcoholics and drug addicts by the general public. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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