Drylands Permaculture Institute - New Demonstration Center

Marsha Hanzi hanzibra at svn.com.br
Thu Apr 23 23:53:04 EDT 1998

Dear Friends all over the world:

	This year El Niño has left 10 million small farmers in Brazil`s
drylands with no crops.  General famine and mass migration are forseen
for July-August.  The problem is always the same: depending on annual
crops which demand rain in a system where rain is an eventual
	My  former students -  now colleagues -  of the Permaculture Drylands
Institute ( all young professionals, graduates of the local
agrotechincal  school) are starting a campaign to  buy their
demonstration center, which they have been developing for the last two
years.  The owner has decided to sell the property to them for US4,000
(4acres , house, and an excellent water catchment system built by my
students) , with an option to buy adjoining land.  The whole project,
with land, tools, solar system, and puchase of three goats and a flock
of chickens, is budgeted at US$15,000.  Six students will actually live
and work this land, as the point is to prove that not only does this
form of management increase fertility of the land, but it ALSO GENERATES
	In spite of the desperate drought , the land is already responding to
the swales,  contour strips, and agroforest management system for annual
crops(plus the excellent water catchment system  installed to guarantee
water even in drought years).  Although it was not possible to plant
this year, last year`s pigeon peas( which were pruned back and
re-sprouted) are still green and flowering, in spite of the lack of
rain.  The soil has excellent tilth- the double depth of neighboring
fields which had just been plowed.  That means rain infiltration in
depth.  With one more year`s time, the  forrage trees now growing will
be big enough to produce considerable biomass, when we expect a real
leap in fertility and humidity.
	I hope that you can help  these young people to prove that yes, life IS
possible in the semi-arid region, that it is no longer necessary to
migrate to the big-city slums every time drought hits...

Sincerely yours,
Marsha Hanzi,
Instituto de Permacultura da Bahia

(Please feel free to ask for more details)

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