Forest Code sparks alarm for Sao Paulo banana growers
Brazil's Ribeira Valley banana growers are worried their plantations could be at risk following heated political discussions surrounding the country's Forestry Code, website Canalrural.com.br reported.
Recent proposed changes in the Brazilian Congress would actually reduce required environmental protection areas if a bill is passed, but if it is not many farmers could come under scrutiny for not protecting enough land.
The law as it currently stands dictates certain percentages of land require environmental protection, ranging from 80% in the Amazon to 20% in southern parts of the country.
Canalrural.com.br reported the law was old and complex for many people, with growers in Sao Paulo's Ribeira Valley now caught out with properties that don't meet the requirements set out under the code, such as the preservation of original vegetation within 100 metres of waterways.
In the 1940's and 50's many farmers were encouraged to graze livestock and plant crops such as corn, beans and rice in these permanent preservation areas (APPs), while today many of these zones are host to banana plantations.
The Ribeira Valley is the largest banana-growing region in the state with around 800,000 metric tons (MT) of annual production over 32,000 hectares, the story reported.
Ribeira Valley Banana Growers Association (ABAVAR) lawyer Sileno Fogaça told Canal Rural farmers were worried about the fate of their plantations, of which 70% were on riverbanks and hillsides.
"There could be mass unemployment in the Ribeira Valley. Around 40 to 60 thousand rural workers would have to leave because it is an illegality," he was quoted as saying.