Creation of a Service Center in the littoral area North of Bahia – Brazil – in support of organic family farming combined with freshwater fish farming

FIELD OF INTERVENTION: Socio-economic Development, Professional Training

GEOGRAPHICAL AREA: Latin America, Brazil, Bahia, Northern Littoral

SHORT DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT: The area covered by the project has a population of almost 50 thousand inhabitants, 50% of whom work in agriculture and fisheries. The local agricultural system is underdeveloped and production is low, which in turn entails very low incomes for rural families, many of them living on the food safety threshold or forced to migrate. Local rural population is formed, to a large extent, by smallholders, young laborers and hundreds of families of “assentados”, namely peasant families provided by the local government with small plots of land taken form latifundia.
A complementary activity to family farming is freshwater fish and mollusc farming. The very low level of knowledge and technical expertise, obsolete techniques and technologies concerning the management of poor soils, suitable crops, knowledge of the market etc., all contribute to regional economic stagnation and marginalization of rural communities. To improve the conditions of rural communities from Bahia’s Northern Littoral, it arose the need to create a regional Service Center, located in the municipality of Camaçari, to support organic family farming combined with freshwater fish farming, for building an operational technical network for the benefit of local rural communities. This will be possible through the combination of own means with specialized activities and synergies with public and private institutions already present in the territory.
The proposed action is intended to benefit: 500 agricultural production micro-units (family farms), through the provision of technical services, assistance to production and marketing; 500 farmworkers, unemployed youth and female heads of households, through professional training modules and assistance to apprenticeship; 250 families of “assentados”, through legal assistance, basic technical training and revolving funds.
The project aims at consolidating a professional training program in the sectors of agriculture and freshwater fishery, with the objective of supporting integration between individuals, families and communities. By means of an appropriate professional training, considering work as a key element for building citizenship, the project intends to build consciousness on rights and duties, to promote social organization and organized work processes.

OBJECTIVES: The general objective is to provide target beneficiaries with information tools, technologies and technical assistance, in order to make a qualitative leap in production and social performances, raising income and professional levels, with the ultimate aim of reversing processes of emigration and rural depopulation.
The intent is to contribute to the improvement of life conditions for Bahia Northern Littoral’s rural population, in particular for those communities living on the food safety threshold, through: valorization of existing human resources and professional training for small-scale farmers; promotion of production and social associationism; incentives to production and marketing for organic agriculture combined with freshwater fish farming, organized in the form of a stable regional consortium.

ACTIVITIES:

  • Selection of communities at the institutional level.
  • Training of technicians, specific theoretical/practical training within the communities.
  • Training modules on social cooperativism.
  • Development of community agricultural projects, biochemical analysis of soil and water projects.
  • Drafting of a rural development plan for 500 agricultural family units.
  • Direct agricultural activity in the communities.
  • Supply of agricultural equipment, seeds and fertilizers and preparation of soil for planting.
  • Market placement for the first agricultural products following the participation in public programs.
  • Socio-environmental awareness-raising activity.
  • Organization of an agricultural Consortium, at the regional level, and establishment of its Quality Label.
  • Participation in the cooperative for organic fiber manufacturing.
  • Opening of a “house” for the production of manioc flour.
  • Drafting of a microcredit plan through the Consortium.
  • Purchase of materials and renovation/enlargement of the Consortium’s premises.
  • Technical support to fishermen communities in cooperation with the municipality of Conde.

RESULTS:

  • Socio-economic census of rural communities with the highest population density, carried out.
  • Correct dynamic in intra/inter-community relations for 60% of targeted rural communities, supported.
  • 6 agricultural experts trained during the first 6 months of the project.
  • Technical services, production and marketing assistance for 500 agricultural production micro-units (family farms), delivered.
  • Legal assistance, basic technical training and revolving funds for 250 families of “assentados”, provided.
  • Regional Service Center, created.
  • Launched a specific professional training program for small-scale agricultural farmers, freshwater fish farmers, farmworkers, youth and female heads of households, for a total of 500 persons trained in the course of the first 2 years of the project.
  • Specific knowledge on cooperative work organization and production, gained by participants in apprenticeship and training processes.
  • Appropriate management skills in production units, gained.
  • 500 production micro-units monitored and 100 experimental productions implemented.
  • Regional cooperative for manufacturing and processing vegetable fibers from coconut, established.
  • Regional agricultural Consortium organized and Quality Label created: thanks to the Quality Label for organic products, products sales had a 150% increase.
  • Certified production areas to identify organic producers supported by the cooperative, recognized.
  • Improved production, through: technical assistance, biochemical analysis of soil, support to associationism, purchase of equipment.
  • Improved quality of life: the implementation of courses and seminars for the communities contributed to local sustainable development and socio-economic awareness concerning environmental and forest resources preservation.
  • Increased participatory dialogue in the communities: the use of a participatory methodology allowed to adapt actions to the communities’ needs.
  • Farmers’ bargaining power strengthened.
  • Local partnership strengthened.

PARTNERSHIP: Lead applicant: Progetto Sud. Partners: Ibi Porang (Socio-environmental Institute)); SEDES (Secretariat for Social Development and Fight against Poverty, Government of Bahia); Department of Agriculture and Environment, Northern Littoral Municipalities (Municipalities of Camaçari, Conde, Jandaira, Esplanada, Entre Rios and Mata de Sao Joao); Landless Worker’s Movement; FUNDIPESCA (Foundation for development of artisanal fishing communities), CONDER (Company for Urban Development,  State of Bahia), Conde’s Association of Rural Small-Scale Producers; CRA (Center for Environmental Resources, Government of Bahia), APA Management Committee (Environmental Protection Area) Bahia Northern Littoral.

TIME PERIOD/DURATION: 01/12/2009 – 31/03/2013 (3 years).

DONOR: Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Governo do Estado de Bahia