The maize-replacement programme in Bahia by AFA

The American Federation of Aviculture is proposing to help support the maize-replacement programme in Bahia

The American Federation of Aviculture (AFA), whose annual seminars I have attended for many years, is proposing to help support the maize-replacement programme in Bahia, north-eastern Brazil in 2014. As regular visitors to the Blue Macaws website will know this programme was set up some eight years ago to prevent poor local farmers from shooting the Lear's Macaws, which were foraging in their maize-fields causing extensive damage to the crop. Conservation measures in the last fifteen years has seen the wild Lear's Macaw population increase to over 1,000 birds. As their natural food source, the licuri palm nut, was in short supply because the trees had been chopped down and saplings eaten by goats, the increasing population was foraging in the maize fields. As is usual with parrots they were inclined to take one ear of corn, eat a little, then drop it for another one. The subsistence farmers needed the crop to feed their families and also sell any surplus. They were shooting the macaws to protect their crops so the scientific field-workers set up a compensation programme whereby the damage to the crop was assessed and the farmers received an equivalent amount of corn brought in from other regions in Brazil. The web-site editor has personally provided funding in the past, but more funding is required and AFA has decided to step in. Anyone donating more than $US 10 will receive a small packet of blue Hopi maize seed. This can be sown in the garden to provide a crop for the donor to sample. The action has been called "Ears for Lears".

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