Sustainable Cattle Farming in Roraima is Led by Indigenous Community Pilot Project

Incorporates more sustainable practices into organic meat production

February, 2023 - “This is really good for all of us. It will serve as an example for other communities and regions, providing better income and more benefits not just for one person or community, but for all. We are very excited,” says Máximo Macuxi, one of the tuxauas (Indigenous leaders) of the Lameiro community, located at the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land.

The community where he was born and resides will  host a pilot training project for the improvement of cattle raised by Indigenous communities in Roraima. The idea is to improve cattle management by incorporating best practices and training that will strengthen the sustainable production of organic meat using early Indigenous methods. 

No one plants grass around here. Our cattle eat what they find in nature. In Roraima, the predominant vegetation is known as lavrado (open savanna-like vegetation). We adopt steps to protect the environment, such as preventing our cattle from trampling over water springs, and using other techniques to promote sustainable cattle farming,” explains environmental manager Sinéia do Vale Wapichana, Coordinator of the Territorial and Environmental Management Department at the Roraima Indigenous Council (CIR).

Sustainable cattle farming is one of the actions developed under the "Bem-Viver project, which promotes the well-being of Indigenous peoples in the state of Roraima and protects the biodiversity of the environment. The project aims to support the implementation of the National Policy for Territorial and Environmental Management of Indigenous Lands (PNGATI). It is run by CIR together with Brazil's International Education Institute (IEB) and Nature and Culture International (NCI), with support from USAID/Brazil.

In the 1980s, before the demarcation of Indigenous lands in Roraima, the region suffered intense pressure from illegal invaders, including illegal gold miners, loggers, and landgrabbers. That initial effort turned into a land management technique, and the areas where their community cattle grazed were treated as Indigenous land (read more here).

Food security - Agricultural engineer Giofan Mandulão, from the Macuxi people, works at the CIR Environmental Department. He confirms that Indigenous communities keep cattle not only for their own consumption and food security, but also as an extra source of income. 

The herds are collective, and belong to the whole community and they have the final say. “We meet to discuss and decide when we are going to kill one of our animals for food. We also do it for special celebrations, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It's a great joy. But there are also other ways to obtain value from our cattle. When someone is ill, for example, and there is no medicine available in the public healthcare network, we can kill a cow and use the money to buy medicine. It is a way of improving the life of our community,” explains Máximo Macuxi.

Cattle farming is a strong tradition among Indigenous communities in Roraima.  Catherine Hamlin, Director of the USAID/Brazil Environment Program affirms, “Under the Bem-Viver project, we are supporting improvements in cattle production to minimize environmental impacts, boost their sales, and improve the quality of their product. In addition to food security, meat serves as an important source of income for Indigenous communities.”

Watch a CIR video on the training delivered in 2022.