• Water Production Connections

Researcher Profile: Camila Abe

Edited by Corrie Monteverde

Camila Abe poses in front of a mountain
PhD Student: Camila Abe

The Connections between Water and Rural Production project (CAP) investigates whether and which farmers adapt their production systems when they experience water variability, what adaptations they make, and whether these adaptations reduce income losses when droughts occur. Improved understanding of these feedbacks will inform efforts by government agencies and civil society to help farmers respond to water scarcity. This profile is based on an interview with Camila Abe.

Why and how did you become involved in this project?

I learned that Dr. Trent Biggs was looking for a Ph.D. student to work with him in investigating the hydrology aspects of rural production in Rondônia. I was very interested and curious about the project because it links farmers’ perspectives and production with environmental characteristics, focusing on water availability. I also found it interesting to look at the relationship between farmers’ production and blue and green water availability during droughts and dry seasons in the Amazon. In this sense, I think this project is highly relevant to supporting farmers in Rondônia while enhancing our understanding of the hydrology in their farms and in the region. This project has a great potential to reconcile optimal rural production while maintaining the environment quality.

What is your favorite part of being in the field?

I haven’t been to Rondônia yet, but I’m planning a visit soon. On the other hand, being part of this project for one year now, I’ve already (virtually) met our collaborators in Rondônia, worked with them in workshops, and seminars, and given (remote) support for fieldwork. I can say that connecting with people is my favorite part so far. But of course, I’m very excited to actually go to the field and do some experiments, collect some samples and get my boots dirty!

What has been the biggest challenge of performing research?

This is a very ambitious project that involves many perspectives (economics, hydrology, meteorology, decision-making), tools (GIS, remote sensing, field data, surveys, etc), and variables to be analyzed. It is a big challenge to find out how all these things connect to explain rural production, and how this information can be useful to farmers and other stakeholders. Aside from that, a big challenge in the blue and green water availability research has been to find out the main drivers of pasture response to drought and low flows during the dry season. These analyses turned out to be even more challenging with reduced fieldwork due to the covid pandemic.

What’s one thing you’ve learned while participating in this project?

I’m learning to see the relationship between rural production/hydrology from an economic point of view. The interdisciplinarity of this project teaches us to think in different ways. I also learned that farmers in Rondônia are active in diversifying their production activities and practices, caring about both their production and the environment. They are also very interested and willing to cooperate with research.

Why do you think this project is important?

I think that ultimately, this project can help to reconcile rural production and the environmental quality in an important Amazon region. Rondônia agriculture is important for securing regional food production and people's livelihoods. It is also within the Amazon Basin, surrounded by the forest, and therefore is impacted and does impact the biome. Understanding the connections between rural production and the environment in that region is crucial to further develop sustainable and productive agriculture.