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In 2008, Shumei International launched a Natural Agriculture program in Itatinga, a small town on the Itapanhaú River located two and a half hours east of Sao Paulo, Brazil. As part of a nationwide tree-planting policy to improve and maintain the quality of the country’s rivers and waterways, trees must be planted on both sides of rivers. City officials in Itatinga were challenged with engaging community members in a tree-planting project. This case study demonstrates how a collaborative Natural Agriculture program is helping to address water quality and reforestation challenges in a rural municipality in Brazil. 

A Collaborative Approach

As part of Brazil’s Green Rivers project, the city of Itatinga initiated a tree-planting project and invited community members to participate in caring for the seedlings. In return, residents were allowed to grow vegetables on the city’s land along the river. This was a welcomed incentive as there are very few open spaces to grow food in the city. However, preventing soil pollution along the riverbank was a major concern. As a result, Shumei was invited by the local authorities to start a Natural Agriculture demonstration garden to educate community members on ways to grow food without the use of chemical fertilizers, or additives. The project is underway and community participation is growing.

The Itatinga Natural Agriculture program is making a positive impact through:

  • The planting and upkeep of trees without the use of agrochemicals and additives to ensure the health of the land and river;
  • Capacity building among community members to grow vegetables at a low cost with minimum intervention through Natural Agriculture;
  • Ensuring the sustainability of the project with lower maintenance of the trees over time and providing clean water resources for communities;
  • Wise utilization of the land for agro-forestry and the long-term restoration of the riverbank.


The Itatinga Natural Agriculture program has been successful in helping to restore the native tree species and ecosystem along the river. At the same time, the Natural Agriculture gardens are providing healthy crops to the community while supporting the city’s tree-planting efforts. As a result, the State of Sao Paulo is funding an expansion of the program.  The practice of Natural Agriculture is demonstrating how sustainable farming practices can ensure to the protection of natural resources and improve the overall health and well being of the land and the people.


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