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Community / Land projects / Sustainable Landscape Program in the Paraguayan Chaco

Sustainable Landscape Program in the Paraguayan Chaco

€0

01/16 - 12/20

Completed

This project is part of

General

In the Irala Fernandez District, in the dry Chaco region of Paraguay, we have been working together with the municipality, the Ministry of Agriculture, a national research institute, the three major dairy cooperatives, and three indigenous communities to improve production of food crops, enhance land management through silvopastoral grazing schemes, and increase the communities’ climate resilience. The latter is important to deal with prolonged periods of droughts as well as severe flooding, increasingly common in this region. The establishment of a MSP was key to this end, in order to bring actors together, define priorities and identify corresponding action plans. Through the MSP we engaged vulnerable groups, which had the opportunity to make their needs heard and we supported them to prioritize actionable plans. Through this process we have learned that building trust takes a long time and stakeholders need to be involved in every step of the way, from the planning to the execution of the solution, because this gives them a sense of belonging and creates an environment of shared development. At the start of the programme the Mennonite cooperatives and the Paraguayan cooperatives were not on speaking terms, and also the leadership of indigenous communities were reluctant to join the MSP. By investing in a preparatory stage of bilateral meetings with stakeholders, Solidaridad could understand their respective challenges and gain credibility as a trusted partner. In addition, to overcome the hesitation of stakeholders at the start, continuous efforts were made to ensure all actors remained on board. For the indigenous communities, this platform offered the opportunity to co-design and implement solutions to address their main needs, opened a communication channel with the local authorities and successfully engaged with local business. As a result of the joint work, sesame production was introduced as a viable option for income generation in these communities. School orchards were introduced to tackle food insecurity, and water reservoirs were built to collect rain water and facilitate the access during drought periods. The dairy production system in the region was also transformed by the introduction of Climate Smart Practices linked to a Technical Assistance Scheme, reaching 430 producers in 12,900 hectares. Productivity levels increased, the quality of milk improved and dairy producers have become more resilient to the extreme weather events, typical of this region. A major result of the project was that producers have gained better access to credit from the Crédito Agrícola de Habilitación CAH (agricultural finance provider), because we supported CAH to close the information gap and helped them to introduce improved (business) data management systems that is used to de-risk loans. The CAH disbursed around €200,000 in soft loans, thanks to which producers were able to buy new livestock, hay, and invest in silage, water reservoirs, and resizing of paddocks. The work with the CAH triggered the interest of other financial institutions that were initially reluctant to invest in small producers because they were perceived to be of high risk. Solidaridad helped to close the information gap, effectively connecting producers with finance. We see clear signals of scaling up after the project's end: the State government is assisting other dairy producers and indigenous communities. 377 dairy producers in the region have started to replicate the better dairy production practices via their cooperatives, inspired by the positive outcomes from the pilot farms.

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