The Trocano Araretama is a rainforest conservation project in Borba, Brazil, that focuses on social, biodiversity and carbon benefits. To ensure the forest is properly protected, frequent visits to the project area are essential. Here, Seán Greif recounts his first day in Borba town in January 2014.
Day 2: I was awoken early by the chimes of the bells from St. Anthony’s Basilica adding to the dawn chorus. I looked out over the Madeira River, ready to start my first day in Borba. I met with Waldemar de Lima from Instituto Amazonia Livre, who was helping with introducing me to both the area and the municipality representatives. We left the hotel and hopped onto the back of the two motorbike taxis, heading to the town hall. The breeze on the motorbike offered a welcome relief from the Amazon heat, and as we wound our way through the streets, I had my first glimpse of Borba.
We arrived at the town hall and we met the Mayor of Borba, José Maria da Silva Maia, who was with the secretaries for rural production and education, Edilson Batista and Francisco da Chagas Filho, respectively. We spoke about the difficulties and the unique challenges of providing services for over 35,000 inhabitants of rural Amazonia, detailing how the Trocano Project could help and where opportunities for collaboration exist. It was encouraging to see how well the project was received by the municipality and the level of enthusiasm when talking about the improvements the project could bring to the local population.
Travelling with Goiano, the head of the Rural Producers Union, we went to visit the chicken farm run by the municipality. This farm has approximately 2, 000 chickens, and the eggs produced are given to schools as part of a social assistance programme. It was a clear illustration of the active impact the municipality is making in the lives of the people of Borba.
We went next to the local fish farm, another social initiative of the municipality. The farm produces both Pirarucu and Tambuqui fish, which are highly sought after and regarded as a “noble” fish of the region. The Tambuqui are sold at a reduced price during Holy Week, when people don’t eat meat, so as to provide an affordable option for lower income families. The Pirarucu is one of the Amazon’s most famous fish species, and can reach lengths of more than 2 metres and weigh over 100kilos. The Brazilian government has restricted fishing of the Pirarucu in the wild and this has meant that farmed specimens supply the market to allow for a stable wild population. Here we saw large chunks of fish being thrown to and ravenously devoured by these fabled giants. After the display, we made our way back to the hotel. I ended my first day watching the sun slowly dip behind the silhouette of trees on the distant banks of the Madeira, eagerly awaiting the adventure that lay ahead.
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