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Story Publication logo July 5, 2023

Seeds for Tomorrow: Indigenous Community in the Amazon Finds in Fish Farming an Escape From Mercury and Pesticide Contamination (Portuguese)

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This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit Um só Planeta. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website. Our website is available in EnglishSpanishbahasa IndonesiaFrench, and Portuguese.


Sustainable fish farming projects, like the one in the Tabalascada community in Roraima, have gained more importance in the face of degradation caused by illegal farming and mining.


Deodato lança a rede
Deodato launches the network. Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.

It is 5:30 a.m. on Mother's Day Sunday. Deodato Leocadio, from the Wapichana people, prepares coffee while waiting for the visit of the current tuxaua (chief), who will come to pick up the fish donation for the commemorative lunch of the Tabalascada community.

Outside, the sound of the heavy rain that marks the Amazonian winter overlaps with the crowing of roosters and chickens, the barking of dogs, and the snorting of pigs. When there is a pause, Deodato throws the corn to feed the animals, which run loose around the house, far away from the center of the community.

Under the faint light bulb that illuminates the house, Deodato opens the thermal boxes where the fish, caught at the end of the previous day, are kept on ice to maintain their freshness until lunchtime.

"Fish farming was a way we found to be able to continue eating healthy fish," says Andreia Machado, Deodato's wife, also from the Wapichana people. Since 2019, the couple is responsible for taking care of hundreds of tambaquis, traditional fish of the region, raised as part of the community's fish farming project.


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The Tabalascada community is located in the Indigenous territory (IT) of the same name, in the municipality of Cantá, Roraima. The IT is one of nine in the Serra da Lua region, which is characterized by lands demarcated in islands: smaller territories, surrounded by farms and plantations - unlike ITs such as the Raposa Serra do Sol and the Yanomami Land, both in the same state, which are demarcated as continuous land.

Demarcated and ratified in 2005, the Tabalascada IT covers 13,000 hectares and includes three communities: Laje, Campinarana, and Tabalascada. The IT has a population of approximately 980 inhabitants, according to the census carried out by the communities in June.

Fish caught the day before, in the ice box to stay fresh.  — Photo: Amanda Magnani
Fish caught the day before, in the ice box to stay fresh. Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.
Andreia takes the ice box to the tuxaua's car.  — Photo: Amanda Magnani
Andreia takes the ice box to the tuxaua's car. Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.
Deodato holds the fishing net inside the tank.  — Photo: Amanda Magnani
Deodato holds the fishing net, inside the tank. Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.
Tank where tambaquis are raised.  — Photo: Amanda Magnani
Tank where tambaquis are raised. Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.
Andreia Machado in front of one of the igarapés where fishing is no longer possible due to contamination.  — Photo: Amanda Magnani
Andreia Machado in front of one of the igarapés where fishing is no longer possible due to contamination. Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.
Deodato and Andreia untangle one of the tambaquis they caught.  — Photo: Amanda Magnani
Deodato and Andreia untangle one of the tambaqui they caught. Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.

Deodato prepares to cast the net (this one is smaller and catches less fish, he can throw it alone, unlike the other one). Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.
Andreia Machado, under trees on the bank of the tank where tambaquis are raised.  — Photo: Amanda Magnani
Andreia Machado, under trees on the bank of the tank where tambaquis are raised. Image by Amanda Magnani. Brazil, 2023.

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