The use of the land and the forms of production appear on the agenda of the province and the municipality in 2017. The story of Juan (53 years old) shows that profitability can be obtained by taking care of health and the earth. The use of agrochemicals in the region grew by 900% in the last two decades.
At age 12, Juan Bruschi heard from his father a question that marked his life: "Do you want to work or study?" Days later he was on top of a tractor and with his hands on the ground. Vegetables were the only family sustenance. Juan mechanized a routine that already by that time, the 80's, included many chemical substances. During a fumigation, he became intoxicated by spraying the production with a very powerful pesticide. That day he checked with his body the toxicity of what man throws on the ground.
"I wouldn't eat lettuce today if I don't know where it comes from. "
Today Juan is 53 years old. He remains with his hands on the ground, but produces without agrochemicals. He is one of the nine entrepreneurs that since the middle of last year have participated in the municipal Green Belt program, which seeks to prioritize horticultural activity and achieve toxic-free products. “I lived it from the inside, nobody has to tell me the damage we are doing to the earth with the current production model. We are damaging nature and we are getting intoxicated with what we eat ”, he reflects.
Land use and forms of production appear on the agenda of the province and municipality in 2017. The latest floods accelerated an uncomfortable debate for all links in the production chain. In the next few hours, the provincial government will announce a battery of measures to intervene in land use. "Nowhere in the world can one do what they want with the soil and natural resources, except in Argentina", summarized the Minister of Production Luis Contigiani.
Promoting sustainable agriculture throughout the province appears in the package of objectives. Juan assures that the land can be taken care of and at the same time obtain profitability. He experimented with both models. Thirty years in one, in which it predominates in 90% of the country's fields, and this last stage in the other, alternative and free of agrochemicals.
He works side by side with his 28-year-old son, the one in charge of continuing the family legacy. The garden is located in Rivarola at 8000 (west zone), next to the new Alcaidía. “In 2005, the State expropriated seven hectares from me for this construction. Today it helps me to fulfill the dream of producing without agrochemicals ”he says.
The impossibility of bending the system made Juan leave the activity for a few years. He exchanged the land for trucks and vegetables for the industrial cordon. But the feeling at the time of returning home never changed. The environment increasingly deteriorated and man increasingly responsible for its destruction.
"Some time ago I returned to agriculture with the idea of doing something different, determined to produce without agrochemicals," explains Juan. That is how it signed up for the municipal Green Belt program, a local initiative to provide resources, training and machinery to these daring entrepreneurs.
“People consume vegetables believing that they are eating healthy, but this is only half. Many are contaminated with pesticides. I wouldn't eat lettuce today if I don't know where it comes from. There is a very bad use of pesticides ”, he points out.
Why is the current production model not questioned? For Juan, economic and cultural reasons are mixed. “There is the profitability involved and the millionaire business behind the agrochemicals. But there are also cultural patterns and traditions that are very difficult to break ”, he analyzes.
Recent experiences indicate that an "active and committed" State is needed to achieve "profound transformations." “We need the State, at all levels, to get involved in this problem. People must be made aware that there is another way to produce and consume. It goes beyond health, it has to do with the environment, with biodiversity, with the ecosystem ”.
900% more agrochemicals than 20 years ago
Argentine researchers were able to quantify the increase of agrochemicals in the Paraná river basin during the last two decades: the use grew by 900% with the introduction of transgenic crops and direct seeding techniques.
The conclusion can be read in the work entitled "Presence and destination of pesticides in the Argentine section of the Paraguay-Paraná river basin" published in the international scientific journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Its authors, M. Etchegoyen, A. Ronco, P. Almada, M. Abelando and D. Marino are scientific researchers from Conicet
They took samples in 22 different places in the basin in two different campaigns. "All concentrations detected in the water were above the recommended levels for the protection of aquatic environments," the report reads.
“Agricultural activity - it is explained - is the source of the loads of pesticide pollution, transported by tributaries that reach the main watercourse and alter the quality of the aquatic ecosystem” .Ecoportal.net