AFTER JOÃO NETO STOPPED USING pesticides at his coffee farm, critters that had long been absent started showing up. Birds began singing at his window in the morning, pacas paraded through the woods, and bees appeared to pollinate the flowers.
Like many producers in the interior of the state of São Paulo, one of the main coffee-growing areas in Brazil, Neto had for decades used chemicals to grow a monocrop of coffee at his Fazenda Santo Antônio farm. But his change in approach also attracted the kinds of insects that farmers often fear: beetles, crickets, and ants.
Neto, though, says he isn’t concerned about insects plaguing his crops. “Nature is in charge. If these plants have to stay here, they will resist.” According to him, all the creatures returning to his farm are important for the “natural rebalancing that the monoculture of coffees had extinguished.”