The challenges and potential for urban and peri-urban agriculture in Belém

On the islands, on the continent, in schools, in health units, or in the backyards of houses. Açaí, cocoa, manioc, vegetables, and medicinal plants. Family and community-based. For commercialization and self-consumption. Agriculture is present in several ways in the capital of Pará, northern Brazil.

2 Did you know?

The urban and peri-urban
agriculture in Belém has the potential to supply vegetables
and greens for

1.7 million

This exceeds the entire
population of Belém (1.5 million)!

It can also
supply over


with açaí beverages
per year…

and generate



of the agriculture and
livestock farms in Belém
are family-managed.


of the people of the Belém Metropolitan Area
(BMA) buy their food at city fairs. In the
rest of Brazil, this number reaches only 4%.


of foods
marketed at CEASA
of Pará proceed
from other states.


Food and
the territory

What is the relationship between food and urban territory?

Explore the image to access the data and understand the configuration of relations between production, supply, marketing, consumption and institutions that make up the urban food system in Belém and region.


Urban and Peri-urban
Agriculture in Belém

In this section, we will take a closer look at the agriculture practiced in the capital of Pará, whether urban (conducted within the urbanized area) or peri-urban (in the more distant and less urbanized regions in the city outskirts). The data proceed from the agricultural census and mapping of farming experiences conducted in loco for the present study.

Photo: Moisés Savian/ Acervo Instituto Escolhas

The Agricultural and Livestock Census of 2017 (IBGE) identified 601 establishments in Belém:

Distribution of agricultural and livestock
farms according to their size in hectares (ha)


Source: Agriculture & Livestock Census - 2017 (IBGE)
BRAZILIAN INSTITUTE OF GEOGRAPHY AND STATISTICS. Censo Agropecuário 2017: definitive results. Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 2019. Available at: Accessed on: 08 sept. 2022.
of the farms have an area
under 20 hectares.
of the farms are
operated by families.
of the farms are headed by women, above the figure for the state (20%) and country (17%).
of the establishments produce açaí, 53% of which is cultivated and 16% is obtained by extractivism.*
Açaí can be cultivated, planted intentionally for commercial purposes, or managed, extracted from native açaí trees in the forest.
of establishments
produce cassava.
Poultry is the most frequent type
of animal production, found
in 12% of the establishments.
In horticulture, the most produced
products are chives, cabbage, caruru,
lettuce, chicory and parsley.
Belém has nine settlement
projects linked to the
National Program for
Land Reform.

Complementarily, the survey produced a visual mapping, through geoprocessing and satellite image analyses of the agricultural areas in the municipality, producing 163 polygons with a total area of 235.2 hectares.

These areas, as well as the establishments in the agricultural census, can be seen in our interactive map.

Types of Agriculture
in Belém

An essential aspect to be observed in Belem’s relationship with food production is the location of the productive land: in the floodplain areas – susceptible to periodic flooding – extractivism and forest management prevail. On dry land, horticulture, temporary crops and cultivated açaí stand out. The study identified eight types of agriculture in Belém.

Urban Agriculture
Case Studies

Here, you will find analyses of the economic and financial viability of some types of urban and peri-urban agriculture initiatives in Belém, selected according to their geographic location, diversity and production system, among other criteria.


Total area

Productive area

Land title

Years in activity




Market access


Interactive map

Click to turn the categories on and off
Click to turn the categories below on and off

Land Use


Identification of land use classes (native vegetation, water, agriculture and urbanization) elaborated in this study from high resolution images of the year 2020 obtained from the National Institute for Space Research. Available at:

Environmental areas and settlements

Urban and peri-urban agriculture

Food Supply and Marketing

Public establishments


Georeferencing based on data of 2022 made available by the Municipal Secretariat of Economy / Department of Fairs and Markets and Municipal Secretariat of Education and Culture / Sectorial Planning Center. For more information, download the georeferenced data in the Credits section.

Privately owned establishments


Distribution of establishments that sell fresh, mixed, and ultra-processed products in the territory, according to the resident population.

Analysis carried out based on the classification of commercial establishments listed in the 2019 Annual Social Information Report, according to the criteria proposed in the 2018 “Technical Study: Mapping Food Deserts in Brazil” (available at

The establishments classified in the fresh/mixed or ultra-processed products were geo-referenced based on the postal code (CEP) (information available in RAIS), located in the territory by means of Google’s API (geolocation) and aggregated into a 1 km hexagonal grid.

The total number of establishments was divided by the resident population in each grid, obtained by extrapolation of the 2010 Census of the census sectors, using a scale of 5,000 inhabitants.


Next Stop: Belém of the
sustainable urban agriculture

What is the urban agricultural potential in Belém when produced using sustainable techniques? In which spaces can the potential be developed? How many people are possible to be fed? In this section, you will find the data that answer these questions.

One of the steps to foment agriculture in cities is to identify adequate areas for development of the activity. Undeveloped areas, unused or underused land, without forest cover, can potentially be dedicated to urban agriculture. With this in mind, the study mapped 699 polygons of public or private areas in Belém, which could be occupied for food production. These areas, totaling the equivalent of 1,170 hectares, are shown in the map at the side.

The allocation of part of these spaces for agricultural production, together with the improvement of production in areas of the city where food is already being grown, served as a basis for the simulation of two scenarios, which used different sustainable production models to explore the potential of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Belém. Check out the results below.

Potential Spaces

Potential Spaces

Non-developed areas and non-used or underused areas, without forest cover, can potentially be dedicated to urban agriculture.

2 Sustainable urban agricultural models for Belém


Model A - Agricultural lot

Model B - Multiple activity lot


Intensive occupation of potential spaces for urban agriculture

Increase the productivity of biodiverse systems




Total area

0.5 hectare

5 hectares


Vegetables (protected cultivation) and cassava

Açaí (managed with minimum impact)


2 full-time people

Day workers

Day workers

Suitable for organic production, with permanent demand for seeds, fertilization and phytosanitary treatment.

Not used

Initial investment

Ranging from BRL 13,000 to 107,000 (considering the purchase of a utility vehicle in the highest investment scenario)

BRL 9,360.18/hectare

By harvest, between March and September
BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH CORPORATION. Practical guide to management of açaí plantations for fruit production. 2. ed. Macapá: Embrapa, 2012.
See details of this model here

What is the potential
for urban and peri-urban
agriculture in Belém?

This section presents the simulation results of two scenarios that considered both the occupation of the mapped spaces with potential for urban agriculture in Belém and improvement of productivity in the areas already occupied by agriculture.

Scenario 1

of Model A

Characteristics of the considered area

Empty spaces in Belém with areas exceeding 5,000 m², equivalent to 47.6% of the total mapped areas, and temporary tillage areas.

Total simulated area

344 hectares


and cassava

Production Volume


Supply potential
1.6 million
per year*
Considering an average daily consumption of vegetables in the Northern region of 31.9 g/per capita.
Job potential


Scenario 2

of Model B

Characteristics of the considered area

Areas with agricultural establishments where açaí production already occurs (permanent crops and extractivism) and areas of agricultural establishments that are not yet managed for açaí production.

Total simulated area

5,348 hectares



Production Volume


Supply potential
people per
Considering an average consumption of 1.33 kg of açaí per inhabitant/month and an average processing yield of 50%.
or 63.1%
of the population
of Belém
Job potential


Food security in economically
vulnerable neighborhoods

In the neighborhood of Tenoné, located in the district of Icoaraci,

48 hectares of potential areas
for urban agriculture

were mapped. If they were occupied with productive units in the Agricultural Lot model, it would be possible to produce

2,683 tons of food per year, enabling supplying 230,000 people and generating employment and income for 191 people.

Currently, the district has almost 6 thousand families registered in the CadÚnico (unified register of poor families) to access social assistance policies, among them, income policies and access to food, with direct impact on food security.

11 actions to promote sustainable
urban agriculture in Belém

Photo: Moisés Savian/ Acervo Instituto Escolhas


Promote access of farmers in the municipality to technical assistance, with the objective of increasing productivity and improving the productive systems, the management and commercialization of the activity.


Promote land legalization and environmental compliance of agricultural establishments already in operation.


Stimulate concessions of public areas without destination or use for urban agriculture.


Articulate state and federal government agencies to guarantee access by Belém's farmers to technical assistance, credit and other policies.


Promote, in partnership with various public and private institutions, the training and mobilization of farmers in the municipality for cooperativism and the organization of productive chains, as a mean to facilitate the marketing of food and obtention of inputs and equipment for the productive process.


Promote policies to support the flow of urban agriculture products from the islands to the continent, via river transport.


Promote policies to stimulate the purchase of food from urban agriculture by restaurants, grocery stores and supermarkets in the municipality, promoting short marketing circuits.


Stimulate the recognition and certification of organic and agroecological production in the municipality.


Promote the acquisition of food from urban agriculture through the municipality's institutional purchases (schools, hospitals, popular restaurants).


Create a Municipal Inspection Service (SIM) that enables to adjust and add value to local production.


Include urban and peri-urban agriculture in the municipal overall plan, an instrument for territorial planning and land use regulation.



The survey methods applied were inspired by the study “Closer than you think: the challenges for food production in the metropolis of São Paulo – Executive Summary”, issued by Instituto Escolhas in 2020.

From the geographic clipping of the city of Belém and its metropolitan region, a broad survey of available secondary data on production, commercialization and consumption relations that characterize the regional urban food system was conducted. The data was analyzed, processed and presented in a descriptive way and, where possible, georeferenced.

The agricultural practices conducted in the city of Belém where object of the detailed analysis, mobilizing primary and secondary data (collected by the research team dedicated to the study), regarding quantities and quality. The study also structured a typology of the agriculture practiced in Belém, from which five cases were selected for application of economic-financial analysis models.

The results of the economic-financial analysis enabled the elaboration of hypothetical models of productive units and simulate the potential for food production and job creation in the territory of Belém. The simulation counted on georeferenced data of the city’s empty spaces.

All data collected by the study, as well as additional information about the methodology and the referential used, are available at the links below (Portuguese only):

Complete Report Part 1 Complete Report Part 2

The challenges and potential of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Belém

Study conceived by Instituto Escolhas.

Overall Coordination – Instituto Escolhas

Jaqueline Ferreira, Camilla Guimarães and Vitória Leão

Research Teams

Food System Analysis: Osvaldo Aly Jr., Fernando Gaiger Silveira, Bernardo Campolina and Alan Nunes Araújo.

Analysis of urban and peri-urban agriculture: Moisés Savian, Sheryle Santos Hamid and Caio Cezar Ferreira de Souza.

Mapping of institutions: Ciria Rosa.

Georeferencing of establishments: Carolina Passos.

Text Editing

Cinthia Sento Sé and Jaqueline Ferreira

Text Revision

Luisa Ghidotti

How to Mention

Instituto Escolhas. The challenges and potential of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Belém. São Paulo: 2022.

Georeferenced data Complete Report Part 1 Complete Report Part 2