After centuries of poverty, marginalisation from national development policies and a lack of support for positive local practices and projects, the semiarid regions of Latin America are preparing to forge their own agricultural paths by sharing knowledge, in a new and unprecedented initiative.
Solar energy has continued to expand in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic and should contribute to the economic recovery in the wake of the health crisis.
Electric transport, still limited in Latin America despite its urban benefits, could expand during the post-pandemic economic recovery, says Adalberto Maluf, president of the Brazilian Association of Electric Vehicles (ABVE).
The first priority in the COVID-19 pandemic was to save lives, in an effort to avoid even more devastating economic losses if strict lockdown and isolation were not put in place.
"It used to be complicated, I would have lunch with the flies," recalls Pedro Colombari, laughing, on his 400-hectare farm where he fattens 5,000 pigs and raises 400 cattle outside of a small town in southern Brazil.
"Slave labour is not declining; it has taken on new forms and is growing; it expanded to new sectors where it did not previously exist," said Ivanete da Silva Sousa, an activist in the fight against modern-day slavery in northern Brazil.
Fomenting biogas production among agricultural producers may seem at first glance to be a distraction from the purpose of Itaipu, the giant hydroelectric power plant shared by Brazil and Paraguay, but in fact it is part of their energy business strategy.
"They're the ideal duo," because the combination of solar and biogas sources makes it possible to provide electricity around the clock, one during the day and the other at night, says Anelio Thomazzoni, a pig farmer who has become a producer of clean energy in southwestern Brazil.
"They called me crazy" for fencing in the area where the cows went to drink water, said Elias Cardoso, on his 67-hectare farm in Extrema, a municipality 110 km from São Paulo, Brazil's largest metropolis.
"Biogas is the best energy, it has no contraindications," and if you combine it with solar it becomes "the best energy business," at least in Brazil, says Anélio Thomazzoni.
The state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil is the largest national producer and exporter of pork and this year it also leads in exports of chicken, of which it is the second-biggest producer in the country.
Biogas has the potential to provide 36 percent of the electricity consumed in Brazil or replace 70 percent of diesel if purified as biomethane, according to the Brazilian Association of Biogas and Biomethane (Abiogas).
August is the month of major political crises in Brazil, but no one suspected that an environmental issue would be the trigger for the storms threatening the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, just eight months into his term.
Romário Schaefer is fattening up 3,300 pigs that he receives when they weigh around 22 kg and returns when they reach 130 to 160 kg - a huge increase in meat and profits for their owner, a local meat-processing plant in this city in Brazil.
Pigs, already the main source of income in this small municipality in southwestern Brazil, now have even more value as a source of electricity.
At the age of 80, Yohei Sasakawa continues to travel around the world to promote solutions for some of the challenges facing humanity, such as Hansen's Disease or leprosy, wars and disabilities, factors of stigma and exclusion.
On Jun. 27, Faustino Pinto was in Geneva, Switzerland, where he spoke to people at the United Nations about the fight against Hansen's Disease and the stigma surrounding it, at a meeting during the 41st session of the Human Rights Council.
“The ambulance team refused to take my sick friend to the hospital because he had had Hanseniasis years before," said Yohei Sasakawa, president of the Nippon Foundation, at one of the meetings held during his Jul. 1-10 visit to Brazil.
Yohei Sasakawa has dedicated half of his 80 years of life to combating the "disease of silence" and is still fighting the battle, as president of the Nippon Foundation and World Health Organisation (WHO) goodwill ambassador for elimination of leprosy, formally known as Hansen's Disease.
When cases of Hansen's disease, better known as leprosy, increase in Brazil, it is not due to a lack of medical assistance but to the growing efficacy of the health system in detecting infections, contrary to the situation in other countries.
A large steel wheel, 14 meters in diameter and 1.3 meters wide, could be the energy solution of the near future, generating 3.5 megawatts - enough to supply a city of 30,000 people, according to a company in the capital city of the state of Amazonas in northwest Brazil.