SUFICA Project

Postgraduate Researcher, 2019-2023 with Dr Lynn Dicks and Dr Simon Butler at UEA

I am a PhD student at UEA working on the SUFICA Project (Sustainable Fruit farming in the CAAtinga), which aims to increase the sustainability of fruit farming in the Caatinga region of north-east Brazil.

The Caatinga region is one of most endangered eco-regions on Earth, being subject to high rates of conversion and very few protected areas; between 1990-2010, the rate of deforestation was 0.53% per annum. Caatinga is also one of the least known biomes, where endemism is high being estimated at between 7-57%. 

Caatinga is also very important socially, with ~15% of Brazil's population living within this region. The rural areas of Caatinga are very poor, and one of the main sources of income is fruit-farming which has been rapidly intensifying and international exports have been increasing. This is key to reducing poverty and economic growth of Brazil but at the moment this is happening at the expense of biodiversity and by reducing the long-term resilience of farming; this disproportionally affects the rural poor.

The SUFICA project aims to experimentally test 'ecological intensification' as a pathway to sustainable intensive agriculture. My work will concentrate on testing landscape enhancement to maximise ecosystem services provided by birds (as part of Integrated Pest Managament) with the aim to quantify pest regulation services and to develop an understanding of the dependence of natural pest regulation performed by birds on landscape structure in the perennial fruit farming systems in Caatinga. Part of this work will also aim to quantify the diversity of avian species across Caatinga and agro-habitats.

To date, the majority of research into natural pest regulation has been heavily biased toward studies in temperate regions and within annual crop systems, and thus there have been no studies that would be representative of the perennial fruit farming in semi-arid Brazil. Additionally, the research to date found the effects of wider landscape on natural pest control inconsistent across studies, which is limits our ability to consider natural biological control in landscape planning and farm management. 

At the heart of the SUFICA project is a partnership approach to provide farmers with the tools necessary for agricultural growth in a way that protects biodiversity and the environment. SUFICA project works closely with fruit farmers and research results will be communicated to farmers through workshops.

To find out more about SUFICA, please visit: and 

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