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The Marajó Island Regenerative Agroforestry & Aquatic Gardens Superfoods Bio-economy

A regenerative superfoods based bio-economy integrating agroforestry and edible aquatic plant gardens with 'Industry 5.0' bio-factories

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Awi Earth Guardian Superfoods Legal name: Awí Frutas da Amazônia Ltda - ME)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Embrapa: Brazilian Company of Agricultural Research Welight: Philanthropy technology platform AMAM: Association of Municipalities of Marajó IFPA: Federal Institute of Pará (technical school / university) Vila Educação / Programa Compasso (Socioemotional NGO) COPAVEM: Agro-extractive Cooperative of Veneza of Marajó (rural agricultural cooperative) COOPED: The Mixed Cooperative of Small Rural Producers of Decentralized Producers of Curralinho (rural agricultural cooperative)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Sao Paulo

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Marajo Island

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The 'forgotten backwaters' of Marajo Island have become a mission for a 'Regenerative Manifest Destiny'. Marajo chose me, initially from a failed angel investment in an acai factory.

12 trips, 3 years, Marajo has become my battleground for the future of the Amazon. A land with a history of massacering the indigenous and then slavery, this island has one of Brazil's lowest HDIs, infamous for poor infra, pirates, child prostitution and boom and busts in rubber, palm hearts, rice and logging. 

Meanwhile, vast forest and aquatic resources provide a rich laboratory to study long-term anthro-ecological interactions. Eastern seasonally flooded savannas, burned for centuries, and today home to buffalo, cattle and surviving wetland palm forests, are an opportunity for regenerative agroforestry models and aquatic food gardens. In the sweeping forests of the Western half, raided of hardwoods for logging, we can propagate seedling nurseries to restore native species within regenerative agroforestry. 

Patu Anu Eco-Farm School, founded in 2017, after being robbed by local pirates, is now a ray of hope for the region; we recently hosted a 'tree of dreams' community gathering. We've partnered with Gov. entities such as the IFPA federal technical training school and an army training unit to receive student interns. We will soon host IFPA forest management courses for locals. We are testing regenerative ag models using "forgotten" palms, fruits, bio-fortified cassava, arrowroot, indigenous corn, sorghum, moringa and unconventional edible plants. 

We are developing a regenerative, certified animal well-being, nutrient dense egg project, using chicken litter for seedling nurseries and agroforestry, vitamin rich alternative ag residues for feed, with replication plans to convert 20 local illegal sawmills. We are also working with two cooperatives to revive abandoned fruit factories, organizing a culture of peace and regenerative design workshop with the state government. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Marajó Island, with 40 km2 of land, is the largest river island in the world. Geographically, Marajó Island is naturally divided into two halves: its eastern half with relatively large savannas and its western half with sweeping forest. Most of the giant island is subject to seasonal or tidal flooding. Numerous tidal rivers less than approximately 100 km long slice through the western, forested region. The eastern interior of Marajó forms an enormous inland basin that collects rainwater, which inundates the area for about six to eight months annually, on about 40% of the island. The huge flooded forests of Marajó are related floristically to the Amazon River floodplain forest. Mangroves, which probably account for less than 10 percent of all floodable forest on Marajó, are found mostly along the northern coast and inland along Marajó Bay.

Technology limits the locals, primarily access to the internet in rural areas, as satellite costs an unaffordable US$67 / month. In most areas, locals lack access to advanced technologies to filter water, to solar lamps or home systems (hence suffering from electricity poverty). 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Using International Futures Forum (IFF) terminology, 2050 challenges in a 'business as usual' ("H1") horizon will be discussed, in spite of our 'viable world' ("H3") 2050 vision. 

Environmental: In 2020, deforestation and global warming are already affecting rainfall. Decades as a logging pole weakened the rainforest, while decentralized slash and burn by small farmers, mainly to plant cassava, have resulted in poor, less productive, acidified soils. River ecosystems are degrading from pollution--with no sewage treatment or garbage collection--and overfishing, leading to hunting of animals and buying more industrial meats. More processed foods use more plastic and metal packaging, and urban waste is sent to irregular landfills or thrown into streets, eventually reaching the rivers. Bags of acai pits line the streets and occupy landfills.
In the H1 2050 scenario, according to Amazon scientists, some 50% of the Amazon rainforest could be gone, threatening livelihoods based on native acai palms and destroying the opportunity for an abundant bioeconomy. 

Diets: In 2020, diets on Marajó increasingly include (ultra) processed foods and limited consumption of greens and vegetables. Hence, the same global crises of diabetes (nearing 10% in Brazil), overweight (60%) and cancer cases (0.5% annually) exist. In a H1 2050, with decreasing consumption of natural local foods in favor of processed foods and industrial farmed produce, health problems will worsen, despite technology advances.     

Economics: Perhaps the greatest challenge is the economic and political power of the traditional and dominant commodity focused, externality blind "developers" of the Amazon work with extensive cattle, monoculture, mining, oil and giant hydro projects, which is part of the food system that promotes soft drinks and fast food. 

In the rural communities, acai is very important for both consumption and income. Most food on Marajó is imported, which is expensive given logistics. The rice boom ended in the 70's, so rice and beans are imported. Small farmers lack knowledge and resources to plant much more than acai and cassava. The Eastern part of the Island has large buffalo (for cheese) and cattle ranches with concentrated wealth.
In an H1 2050, declining rainfall will hinder acai production and food security could be an issue, in particular as rural families become less self sufficient. 

Culture: The locals are increasingly losing contact with their traditional foods, such as extracting oils from the seje palms. Children are found eating more processed foods and sodas, and quite rarely traditional foods such as peach palm fruit for breakfast. In an H1 2050, this trend would likely continue, and even food delivery apps will arrive in more remote cities, meaning less connection with food.

Technology: Poor technology infrastructure, lack of internet access, translates into inefficiencies and higher food costs.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

"A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist."

R. Buckminster Fuller

A vision focused on individually addressing / treating the numerous shortcomings / symptoms of the present food system--let alone with unpredictable future challenges, in light of climate change--would be destined for failure. 

A H3 Vision should be so future focused, systems oriented and collaborative--and sufficiently detached from the present model--to truly birth a 'New Dream for Humanity', free from such challenges.  

We see four guiding quadrants for creating an integral and regenerative food vision: (i) radical stakeholder collaboration amongst, (ii) conscious, integral education capable of shifting worldviews, (iii) a synergistic bio-economic web extending to pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, using 'Industry 5.0' factories / bio-laboratories, and regenerative agricultural / aquaculture activities, integrating environmental technologies, and (iv) innovative social and social finance technologies that allow for equitable wealth sharing with local communities and a percentage of resources devoted to ecosystem regeneration.
How it happened? An inclusive and collaborative approach, based on partnerships amongst community associations and cooperatives, NGOs, private industry, universities, and Governments, was essential for Marajó's becoming a globally inspirational case study of for the Amazon. Participation by local communities was encouraged via "tree of dreams" harvesting workshops. Government was engaged first with training in culture of peace, non-violent communication and regenerative design, and then co-created new policies with local communities that facilitated the new vision. Blended finance partnerships further strengthened collaboration, and complementary capital from Governments, impact investors, multilaterals, foundations and food consumers rapidly accelerated project implementation. 

Educationally, the transformation of 162 rural schools into family agricultural schools, teaching agroforestry / regenerative agriculture (including medicinal plants non-conventional edible plants), permaculture, forest management and cultivation of edible aquatic plants. However, underlying these technical skills, the foundation was socioemotional education, deep ecology, regenerative design, wellbeing, nutrition and valuing and rescuing of local traditions and cultural heritage. 

Innovative social technologies allowed for the co-creation of the new systems, while social finance technologies allowed for locals to share in economic activities and receive credit to invest in their activities, in a win-win synergistic model.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

In Marajo's 2050 H3 dominant future, environmental metrics for forest coverage, biodiversity, soil and water pollution are publicly monitored; after lows in 2028, by 2050 they have surpassed 2020's. Forests thrive and water and soil are clean again. Biodiversity is returning. 

Diets, mostly plant based, are highly nutrient dense and include medicinal herbs. Agroforestry and aquatic food gardens provide a diet rich in phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, omega 3 and fiber. Marajó Island is on a Blue Zone path. 

108 thriving food cooperatives have inspired other movements in the Amazon and other biomes. Disposable income is 18x greater than in 2020, and farmers are food self sufficient. The buffalos and cows of Eastern Marajó were replaced by edible aquatic plant gardens, providing super nutritious food. 

Eco-gastronomic tourism is booming. In a 'Food Renaissance', AFD sponsored young French chefs teach cooking at Family Agriculture & Cooking Schools. Traditional Marajo culinary recipes have been fused with French cuisine. The flavors of the forest come alive in herbs infused sehe and other palm oils and beach palm tempeh.  Holacracy and community meals have fostered thriving governance in the cooperatives.  

Technology: Marajó is a green ag tech cluster. Beyond Industry 5.0 bio-factories, ag drones map, plant harvest and transport products and IOT has been integrated into precision agriculture, as all people and machines are connected. Post- blockchain technologies are used to trace products origins back to the farmers and you can even send a tip after eating a product. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

n the H3 dominant regenerative future, forest coverage, (including replanted native hardwoods) and soils, no longer burned, improve annually, enhancing agricultural production. Organic material is gathered in rows, complemented by guinea grass. Even the "tucupi", effluent production, is fermented and then used as natural fertilizer. Similarly, the soil recovers each year from the remaining pollution that continued until around 2030, aided by Terra Preta derived from acai husk gasification and probiotics. Fauna biodiversity mirrors the annually increasing diversity of the agroforestry activities; 108 species are normally planted per hectare. The daily tide rises have been incorporated into the design of the aquatic gardens, providing fresh nutrients and helping to keep the rivers clean.  

Economics: Agroforestry, aquatic plant farms, and food processing are the most important activities. 24 'Industry 5.0' bio-economy factories spread throughout the island process fruits, seeds, palms hearts, and medicinal plants. Eco-gastronomic tourism is the second most important activity, as Gaians from all continents visit the CSA gardens and aquatic cafés on rented passenger flying drone boats.

Rural producers, besides the abundance of food and medicinal plants to support vibrant health, convert excess crops into digital tokens to buy foods produced by the local factories, in which they have equity stakes via their cooperatives, financed from blended finance programs. Complementing crop income, hardwoods are planted within the agroforestry systems, providing a long term economic asset.  

Agroforestry and aquatic food gardens provide a staple of 12 fruits and 12 varieties of cassava, arrowroot, acai palm hearts, corn, sorgo sacha inchi, and acai, bacabi and (carotenoid rich) peach palms. Aquatic gardens with duckweed, sea lentils and water lilies make high omega 3 salads, while 'Gen Beta' youth even add them to their acai bowls.

Besides the food sector, the cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors account for about 30% of the value of the agroforestry and aquatic garden industries, given the very high value of these products in a bio-economy.  

Diets have been the largest driver of vibrant health, with diabetes under 3% and only about 20% of the population overweight. Over 95% of calories are plant based, as highly nutrient dense food permeates meals.  Agroforestry and aquatic food gardens provide a diet rich in phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, omega 3 and fiber. Of the minimal fish and egg production, very little is consumed locally on the island. 

Culture: The Marajó Food Renaissance resembles Vietnamese history. French chefs, as part of the AFD sponsored Family Agriculture & Cooking Schools program--where adolescents divide them between the schools and at home--revived traditional culinary recipes, while fusing them with modern French cuisine. The importance of meals as a moment of connection, practiced at the lifelong learning schools, has created deeper dialogue and connections among communities.   

Technology: Marajó has become a green ag tech cluster.  The Center for Regenerative Drones, founded as a collaboration of six international universities in 2022 with U.K. Gov support, was clearly an inflection point. U.K. technology and Government support have played a transformative role. Drones using BioCarbon Engineering technology not only have mapped the forest fruits using What3words coordinates, but also they plant and harvest around 40% of palm drupes. Artificial intelligence sensors for soil and river enable ideal nutrient applications. Refrigerated containers using PV and solar refrigeration containers, with ozone mists, ensure fruit preservation, until the drones collect them.  

Policy: Policies in 2050 have strict nutrient density food requirements for schools and limit processed foods. Government supported banks finance regenerative agriculture / aquatic gardens, with loans being repaid in produce, via triangular digital contracts.  Subsidies exist for electric boats and farmers also receive vouchers to hire technical assistance. At the municipal level, policies have favored unprocessed nutrient dense foods at the schools.At the municipal level, policies have favored unprocessed nutrient dense foods at the schools. 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • SOCAP 2019

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