Gap Analysis Results Report

The gap analysis conducted by Solidaridad revealed a set of critical issues for improving the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the soy sector in the Capanema area.

The main challenges facing smallholder soy farmers to improve sustainability are:

  • Economic
    1. Cost Control
    2. Planning
  • Social
    1. Safety while using agrotoxics
    2. Succession, i.e. who will take over the farm upon retirement
  • Environment
    1. Conservation of native vegetation
    2. Use of agrochemicals

Within each of those challenges, several critical issues were identified and a major lesson learnt derived. Solidaridad and BACP believe these lessons learnt are broadly applicable to many sustainability initiatives with smallholder farmers in commodity crop contexts.

Lessons Learnt:

  • National policy uncertainty (in this case the pending vote on the Brazilian Forest Code) makes planning local action difficult
  • Smallholder difficulties in financing production can be addressed through collective bodies like COPAFI [link] that facilitate access to finance
  • It is difficult to convince farmers in this context to participate in trainings and courses to improve agricultural practices.
  • Strengthening farmer outreach for young farmers can help break this trend.
  • Farmer training on health and safety issues related to agrochemicals is a long-term process requiring continuing commitment to training and dialogue.
  • While it was recognized that biodiversity is an important asset for the region, incentive structures to encourage conservation practices are lacking, especially ones that directly reward native species preservation.

After preparing the gap analysis toolkit and producer self-assessment questionnaire, and then implementing it throughout the Capanema area by surveying 378 smallholder farmers, the final critical step in a complete gap analysis is to evaluate and discuss the results.

In May 2012 Solidaridad and its partners held three workshops with policymakers, public agriculture extension workers, and others with influence on agriculture and environmental practices in the region to discuss the results of the gap analysis. The powerpoint presentation of the gap analysis from this meeting is included in the file as well