In skilled hands, the piassaba coconuts become jewels. Each new shape is the result of a different touch given to it by the artist. All of the pieces are unique. “I feel accomplished when I see what I can do,” said Esdras Coutinho, member of the Pratigi Environmental Protection Rural Area Producers’ Cooperative (COOPRAP). “I join the coconut with the fiber, playing with the shapes.” The resident of Taperoá, in Bahia, uses silver, coconut and piassaba fiber to make the biojewels.
Coutinho participated in the production of the first line of biojewels launched by COOPRAP, an institution supported by the Odebrecht Foundation and which is part of the Bahia Southern Lowlands Environmental Protection Area Mosaic Integrated and Sustainable Development Program (PDIS). Called the Pratigi APA, the collection gathers 26 pieces and is being shown at international handicraft fairs with the support of the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil). The partnership with Apex was established in November 2010 to make it possible to insert the cooperatives associated with PDIS into the international market.
“This is an excellent opportunity for COOPRAP,” said Creuza Amorim, artist and President of the Cooperative. “We are using all of the potential of the piassaba trees and with this, we create chances for human, social and productive growth, in addition to helping conserve the environment,” she said.
For Coutinho, the joint work is fundamental. “COOPRAP is training us,” said Coutinho. “Before we worked with the coconut. Today, we learn how to insert silver, which made the pieces more attractive and beautiful, improving their quality.” The institution also receives the support of the Mauá Institute to offer courses to its members.
Created in 2005 to drive the development of the quilombola communities of the Southern Lowlands, promoting quality of life with sustainability, COOPRAP has 105 members. The cooperative installed a broom factory, called “Citizen Industry,” and reintroduced coconut, straw and piassaba fiberbased handicrafts into the region. The cooperative members produce different articles, including baskets, mandalas, purses, trays, buckets and lamps, among others. Currently, the products are sold to the Tok&Stok, Bonanza and Arco-íris chain of stores (handicrafts), GBarbosa, Ebal and Wal-Mart (brooms) and Souza Ribeiro and WRossi (piassaba fibers).
According to cooperative member Aniele Rosário, from the community of Boitaraca, located in Nilo Peçanha, Bahia, the handicraft work changed her life. “I can plan my schedule and honor my commitments,” she said. “I have my own income.” Aniele also pointed out her accomplishment at exercising the activity. “We have the oppor tunity to publicize our community.”
In 2010, COOPRAP earned the ISO 9001. The certification, issued by the Bureau Veritas Certification Group, proves that the management system is based on principles of quality, with team involvement, leadership, continuous improvement and a process and system-based approached, among others.