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Tocantins consolidates sustainable growth

Tocantins consolidates sustainable growth in 20 years

Only twenty years old this Sunday 5, the new state of Tocantins provides to Brazil and the world real examples of how to combine development and sustainability. With strategic actions in several areas such as environment, optimizing water resources, agriculture, bioenergy, and various other social actions, Tocantins is presented to the country as a promising and growing state.

Tocantins stood out nationally and internationally, with Law 1.917/2008 geared to preserving the environment in the areas of Climate Change, Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development. The law regulates the concentration and emission of greenhouse gases in the following sectors of the state: forests, energy, industrial, transportation, sanitation, construction, mining, fishing, agriculture, and agribusiness.

The law, which made Tocantins the second state in the country to approve specific environmental legislation, was drafted respecting the precepts of the Kyoto Protocol, where the signatory countries pledged to reduce the rate of emission of polluting gases in the atmosphere. The law was subject of studies by experts in environmental law from Pace University in New York (U.S.) in April of this year, with the participation of Governor Marcelo Miranda.

The governor took on the challenge to demonstrate to Brazil and the world that you can develop without destroying. “We created in our state the Law on Climate Change, Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development, which will ensure that new politicians or government leaders continue aware of the importance of governing with responsibility,” said Marcelo Miranda to American experts.

In addition to creating specific legislation for the environment, Tocantins is also seeking assistance from international partners for environmental preservation. One example was the partnership established by Naturatins – Nature Institute of Tocantins with non-governmental organization The Nature Conservancy and Funbio – Brazilian Biodiversity Fund – to ensure conservation of resources of preservation areas in the region east of the state, like the State Park of Jalapão.

The concern on environmental preservation of Tocantins is reflected in numbers. According to the 2008 Sustainable Development Indicators of IBGE – Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, Tocantins is in forth place among Brazilian states with less deforestation.

In addition to controlling deforestation, Tocantins is one of the states with largest area of environmental protection, with 22.8 square kilometers. The number is almost four times larger than the entire reservation area of the Southeast, which has 6.6 square kilometers, and larger than the environmental protection area of the Amazon, which has 17.7 square kilometers, according to data from IBGE released in June, 2008.

PDRS

The PDRS – Regional Sustainable Development Program is an initiative of the state government, in partnership with international financial institutions such as the World Bank, for improving access to markets, job opportunities, infrastructure and social services to regional communities.

With investments of around US$ 100 million, the activities are geared to municipalities with lower HDI- human development index. The initiatives are focused on benefits for the Planning and Management of Local and Regional Development, Consolidation of the Environmental Protection System and Conservation and Improvement of State and County Roads.

Tocantins seeks new investors and development partners. One such partner is Bird – World Bank, which has expressed interest in financing investments on the Regional Sustainable Development Program of the state. The director of Bird in Brazil, John Briscoe, said after meeting with Governor Marcelo Miranda, that the state has good financial indicators.

“It is a state in which we have a very positive expectation. We had an interesting conversation on the navigability of the Araguaia and Tocantins rivers, which is a challenge for the entire country. We left with the idea that the waterway as well as regional development in Tocantins, may be the main axis of a new contractual operation, and that Tocantins has good financial indicators,” explained John Briscoe.

New food production

In a time when the world discusses food crisis production, Tocantins is a good example of how to produce more without degrading the environment. From 7.5 million hectares available for farming in the state, 5 million already have capacity to produce. Of this amount, 700 hectares are in full food production.

The potential for food production is the leading differentiator in the state in relation to countries like the United States, which produce fuel from foods such as alcohol made from corn, which has a yield six times smaller than the Brazilian alcohol, mainly made from sugar cane.

Water Resources

With the major river basins of the country, Tocantins invested in partnerships with the federal government to use its hydro potential in a rational and sustainable manner. The rivers are destined for irrigation, fish farming, generation of electricity, among other actions.

Project Manuel Alves, largest project of irrigated agriculture in the country, located in the southeastern region of the state, has the capacity to irrigate an area of 20 hectares, divided into lots for small rural producers, and medium and large for enterprises. The project was inaugurated by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on March 11 of this year, and has already begun receiving the first producers, selected through tender. In full operation, the project Manuel Alves will be responsible for the generation of 15 thousand direct jobs and 30 thousand indirect jobs.

One beneficiary from the project, the small producer Albuquerque Milton dos Santos, started planting on his lot on June 3 of this year and now has a plantation of 1.7 thousand banana plants. “I expect to harvest 20 tons of bananas this season. The production has guaranteed sells, both within Tocantins, other states and even to South Africa we have conditions to sell,” he said.

He celebrated the fact that he was benefited with a plot of land with infrastructure for irrigation. “It is very important not only to me, because in addition to improving our quality of life, the initiative creates more jobs for other farmers and traders,” said.

On the other hand, the Sampaio Project is a proposal to develop fruit and grain production in an area of 7.3 hectares, in the far north of the state, with a capacity to generate 1.5 thousand direct jobs. The production, which will be irrigated by the Tocantins River, can be sold to Maranhao, Para and other Northeastern Brazilian states. The first farmers for the Sampaio project have been chosen to launch the fruit production.

In Palmas, the Sao Joao project also makes use of the water resources of Tocantins, with a capacity to irrigate 3.5 hectares of land and generate 6.2 thousand direct jobs. The water used is withheld in the reservoir of the UHE power plant. The first lots for production should be put out to tender later this year.

Hydroelectric potential

With vast energy potential, Tocantins already has along the Tocantins River 10 hydroelectric plants of large, medium and small size. The three largest hydroelectric power plants of the state, Luis Eduardo Magalhaes, Peixe Angical and Isamu Ikeda, are responsible for the production of 1383 megawatts of renewable energy. Tocantins exports 90.4% of its energy production.

Besides these large-scale plants, there are 11 PCH – Small Hydroelectric Centers, which supply to most of the smaller counties of the state. Together, the PCHs are responsible for the production of 37.34 megawatts.

Eight other electric power generators are under construction in Tocantins, between UHE and PCH that when in operation, will be capable of generating other 1430 MW.

Biofuels

The state stands out in its capacity for production of the so called “clean” energy, such as biodiesel, coveted by the developed countries as an alternative fuel for the future. The large differentiator of Tocantins in this case is that to produce this type of fuel there is no need for deforestation, since it has 5 million hectares available for production, well received by international investors.

Tocantins has two biofuel plants in full operation. Brazil Ecodiesel in the Porto Nacional region, 60 km from Palmas, produces 360 cubic meters of biodiesel per day, about 120 thousand a year, with production already sold to Petrobras. Biotins, in the town of Paraiso do Tocantins, 63 km from the capital, buys the tame-nut crop from approximately 300 small rural farmers, and currently produces 210 thousand liters of biodiesel. The company’s estimate is to reach in up to five years an area of 50 thousand hectares of oilseed planted in Tocantins, capable of producing 87.5 tons of biodiesel in the state.

In addition to biodiesel, Tocantins is also investing in infrastructure for ethanol production on a large scale through the construction of an ethanol pipeline, a system of pipelines to link the production and distribution of alcohol fuel from the states of Tocantins, Piaui and Maranhao. The production of these states will be exported through the port of Itaqui, in Sao Luis (MA). In Arraias, southeastern region of the state, the EQM Group Company already produces alcohol fuel with production estimated at 240 tons.

Social Development

The social and economic development of families who extract natural resources is also an initiative of the state government to promote sustainability.

In the region of Bico do Papagaio, the Asmubip – Regional Association of Rural Women Workers developed the Babaçu Project, responsible for expanding production, improving quality and adding value to byproducts of the babassu coconut. The project serves 810 women of 11 municipalities who are in social vulnerable situation. It was one of the projects approved this year by the ‘Development and Citizenship’ program of Petrobras, and this year will receive an investment of over R$ 567 thousand.

According to a technician from the State Department of Labor and Social Development, Josivaldo Veloso, responsible for the project, the department provides technical assistance in the preparation of projects, so that associations such as Asmubip can claim resources. “In this case, we make the project, and the State Department of Labor sends a food engineer from its staff to monitor the performance of the work,” he explained.

Source: 10/03/2008 – Achilles Lins – Tocantins Government

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