José Artur de Barros Padilha
This profile was prepared when José Artur de Barros Padilha was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
Convinced that inappropriate resource use and farming methods in poor, drought-ridden areas in the northeast of Brazil are at the root of the region's, and indeed the nation's, most vexing social and developmental problems, José Artur Padilha is developing, testing and disseminating new technologies that optimize the use of scarce water resources, restore the productivity of depleted soils and produce substantial and sustained increases in agricultural output. As part of that endeavor, he is building and fine-tuning a new conceptual approach, or model, for resource use and agricultural production in semi-arid regions. He is testing and integrating the major elements of that approach on a sizable ranching and farming property in Pernambuco, where he has already achieved remarkable improvements in soil and water quality and farm output. As a consultant to the planning secretariat in the neighboring state of Paraiba, he is also demonstrating the techniques that he has developed in several pilot projects and encouraging their use in semi-arid areas throughout the northeast region.