The meeting with Maristela yesterday included a powerpoint presentation of the history of Canarana and it’ s agriculture. I took copious notes but need to transcribe them into something readable. Then she took us to the school in downtown Canarana where the “greenhouse” for the project is located. I couldn’t believe the size of the nursery! It’s like a mini Mahoney’s and 90% of the work is done by students. They collect the seeds, plant them, care for them til they germinate and become transplantable, replant in appropriate soil and then go to wherever their plot (to reforest) is located – within the county – and plant the sapling. Hundreds of students are involved and dozens of teachers as well. I was overwhelmed by the organization, care and detail of this project.
Got and early start today since we needed to drive 90km (~1.5hrs) to the first school we would be visiting “Colonel Vanick” in Coluene. The roads outside of Canarana “proper” are unpaved, dusty & bumpy and people drive very fast on which ever side of the road they can get a better ride, often passing tandem soy trucks and other vehicles in a cloud of red dust. These roads are state highways, stop signs are just suggestions and the only way a vehicle will slow down is when they come upon one of the xlge speed bumps or depressions in the road. I wear my seat belt!
We saw many new animals & birds along the route; inculding blue macaws & racoon-like quati. Kathleen saw a toucan but I misssed it again.
Since the teachers have been on strike for approx 2 months, only a few were available to meet with us and a handful of students came in especially to show off their work. They made a formal presentation to us and then opened up for Q&A on both sides. The teachers there and I are comrades in that we are underpaid, overworked and “don’t get no respect”! The students love the project, are deeply engaged and invested in its success and many want to further their education to the field of agriculture in the future (but no-one wants to be a teacher).
We went out on school grounds to observe their school nursery and they presented us with freshly picked papaya and cashew fruit (did you know that the cashew is a fruit and the nut is an extension of it that cannot be eaten til it’s cooked?) The cashew smells fantastic and the fruit is so juicy – we left with a bag full and saved the papaya for later as well.
Did lunch and toured another school on the way back, the “Elidia Corbari” in Garapu. They were involved in the restoration project/seed festival competition but had to pull out this year due to transportation problems – the school is in a more remote location and the students would have to travel too far to the sites. but they hope to be involved again in the future.
Our last stop of the day was back in Canarana at town hall to meet with the Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Mato Grosso (Maristela’s boss). She’s very proud of the outreach project and the cooperation between the schools, farmers, researchers and business people. It’s a small project to them, considering the size of the Amazon, but it is a great beginning!