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Living Laboratory for Coping with Drought in Brazil
By Mario Osava
The first surprise on arriving at Abel Manto’s farm is how green it is, in contrast with the dry brown surroundings. His beans and fruit trees seem oblivious to the persistent drought in the semi-arid hinterland of northeast Brazil, the worst in 50 years.
An “underground reservoir” made out of plastic sheets spread below ground to contain water keeps the soil moist, allowing beans to be grown on some 1,000 square metres in spite of the drought.
Various techniques for collecting and storing rainwater, including ponds, tanks, connected reservoirs and concrete surfaces, collect nearly 1.9 million litres of water in normal rainfall years on his 10-hectare property, according to Manto.
He and his wife and small daughter use 277,000 litres for drinking and cooking. The rest is used to raise small livestock…
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