Prompted by the hunger for knowledge, Rosimare dos Santos, age 17, joined the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Family Home (CFR-PTN) last year. Located in the Bahia Southern Lowlands, the teaching unit offers professional education adapted to the rural reality. Daughter of rural producers, the young woman wanted to develop her skills in agriculture. “My life began to change,” said Santos, a resident of Beira Rio, located in the municipality of Teolândia. “At the Home, I found the opportunity I needed. I wouldn’t like to have to leave my region in search of work like my brother and cousins did,” she said.
Santos works for one week as an intern at the teaching unit, learning in both the classroom and on the field, and another two weeks on her property, applying the new knowledge acquired. The methodology is called Trade-Off Teaching and the training lasts for three years. “I see that agriculture works; when we work with technique, things change,” she said. “It was not easy to get my dad to plant differently, since he has been a farmer for a long time. I convinced him with my results.”
In addition to sharing the learning with her family, the youth also takes it to her neighbors during the seminars held in the community, an activity included in the training. “Here, we are all formers of new cultures,” she said. With her dreams coming true, Santos is already planning her future: “I want to study Agronomy and then return to the rural region with more knowledge to offer my community.”
Stories like Santos’ have marked the history of CFR-PTN, which has sought to contribute toward the development of young rural entrepreneurs for the past 10 years. The first steps were taken on August 2, 2002, when rural community associations from the municipality of Presidente Tancredo Neves mobilized to create the Rural Family Home Association. “The seed was planted with the hope that the children of the farmers, driven by their desire to stay in their native land, would organize to fight for quality education that met their needs and that of the globalized world, valuing rural knowledge,” said Juscelino Macedo, Leader of the Manioc Root Strategic Cooperative Alliance. In addition to CFR-PTN, the alliance also includes the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Producers’ Cooperative (COOPATAN). Both are part of the Bahia Southern Lowlands Environmental Protection Area Mosaic Program for Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability (PDCIS), supported by the Odebrecht Foundation.
João Neto, age 25, was a student of the first group. He began the course in 2003 and learned about rural administration, cooperativism, soil management, irrigation, drainage, as well as several different cultivation methods – techniques that helped him develop his crops without environmental impacts. He is currently completing the university-level course in Business Administration and is responsible for the COOPATAN Sales Sector, besides his own activities as a farmer. “I am a rural entrepreneur,” said Neto. “I want to maintain my connection with the rural region and always seek out new knowledge, since we can never learn enough,” he said.
For Lucas Santos, age 20, the Family Home brought discipline and a vision of the future. The resident of the community of Gendiba I, in Presidente Tancredo Neves, is completing the technical high school course in Agriculture. “With the orientation I found at the Home, I started up my own banana cultivation educational-production project,” said Santos. “I am already harvesting and I plan to buy a piece of land with my earnings so that I can expand my plantation,” he said.
The investments for implementing Lucas’ project were provided with the support of the program “Tribute to the Future” – which supports initiatives certified by the Odebrecht Foundation through income tax-deductible donations by the Organization’s Members.
Santos joined COOPATAN and the result from the cultivation, together with all of the family’s production, will be delivered to the cooperative. “The price is higher and it is fixed,” he explained. “It’s not like when we sold to middlemen, with a different value every day. We only receive the benefits, said Santos, who is one of the 65 youth from CFR-PTN who are also part of COOPATAN. “For the past 10 years, the Family Home has been working together with the cooperative, offering education focused on the reality of the rural region and on improving the income earned,” said Juscelino Macedo. “We are promoting significant changes in our region,” he said.
In 2009, CFR-PTN was authorized by the State Board of Education to administer the technical high school course, becoming the first entity with this type of approval in Brazil’s North/Northeast region. Previously, those who completed the training received a professional qualification certificate. “The Home guarantees access to formal and professional education, important for the development of young farmers so that they can act as citizens and as rural entrepreneurs committed to sustainability,” said Osvaldo Barreto, Bahia’s Secretary of Education.
During the 10-year history of CFR-PTN, Rosimare Santos, João Neto and Lucas Santos are a few of the 250 rural entrepreneurs that completed or are completing the training offered by the teaching unit. “This is a school that offers great knowledge, forms youth conscious of their reality in the rural areas and has helped many families believe in agriculture,” said Rosimare Santos.
Discipline that Generates Respect and Consolidates Trust
Throughout the course of its history, CFR-PTN has worked together with COOPATAN to establish a series of partnerships. Whether financial, political or technical, the support has helped improve the teaching unit’s actions. The first of them began to be constructed in August 2003, with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (EMBRAPA).
With the support of the Bahia Department of Agriculture, EMBRAPA installed a Demonstrative Field of Technologies for Manioc Root Cultivation. “By educating the youth and introducing new technologies, the agriculture in the region made some important advances,” said José Raimundo Ferreira Filho, Agronomic Engineer for the EMBRAPA Manioc Root and Fruit Production area, who accompanied the installation of the Family Home. “I saw producers and their children gain new perspectives for the future and quality of life,” he said.
There was also the establishment of a cooperation agreement in teaching, research and extension with the Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB) to undertake studies with the manioc leaf in order to use it as in ingredient in animal feed, and with the manipueira – a residual liquid generated through pressing the shredded manioc root pulp –, which can be used to produce fertilizers.
The year 2010 marked the inauguration of the Territorial Technological Vocational Center through an agreement with the Bahia Department of Science, Technology and Innovation, which invested R$ 329,000. The project is allowing for the diffusion of scientific knowledge and improvement of the manioc cultivation through an analysis of the plant fibers, water and soil.
Financial institutions such as Banco do Brasil and the Brazilian National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) are also contributing toward the initiative. “It is a winning partnership,” explained ângelo Fuchs, Head of the Solidary Economy Department at BNDES. “What impresses us is this complete integration and strategic alignment for production inclusion,” said Fuchs.
“For Banco do Brasil, it is a great pleasure to see that we are able to promote social transformation,” said Armando Soares, Sustainable Development and Family Farming Manager at Banco do Brasil in Bahia. “Family farming is feasible, strong and it ‘feeds’ Brazil,” said Soares.
The Banco do Brasil Foundation made it possible to acquire the agricultural equipment, and in 2011, it offered the social technology called PAIS – Integrated and Sustainable Agro-Ecological Production, installed at the Home’s head office, and which is gradually being taken to the youths’ properties. “Our partnership makes it possible to re-apply PAIS in the Southern Lowlands. “There will be more than 180 units installed in the region and 25 units in Presidente Tancredo Neves,” said Jorge Streit, President of the Banco do Brasil Foundation. “Besides promoting sustainable agriculture that does not harm the environment, this social technology also guarantees high quality food and the generation of income,” said Streit.
In 2012, the Mitsubishi Corporation extended its support to PDCIS and plans to invest US$ 1.8 million over the next three years in three family homes in the Bahia Southern Lowlands. One of these is CFR-PTN. “The projects are important for Brazilian society and perform their function efficiently,” said Minoru Akita, General Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility in Japan for Mitsubishi. “The resources will be used to fund the training of new rural entrepreneurs,” he said. “The youth, which are the new generation, are learning with hopes and dreams,” said Kana Hasegawa, responsible for Corporate Social Responsibility in Brazil for Mitsubishi.
In addition to these recent partnerships, CFR-PTN receives support from the federal, state and municipal governments, the Municipal Board for the Child and Adolescent; National Rural Learning Service (SENAR); Brazilian Support Service for Micro and Small Companies (SEBRAE); the bank Caixa Econômica Federal; Michelin Group; Microsoft; Dell and Oi.
Since 2006, the Family Home has received participants from the Organization’s and Braskem’s Engineering and Construction Entrepreneur Development Program. Members of Odebrecht and the graduates take to opportunity to discuss the dreams and expectations of those who have such distinct realities and think about the future based on a single culture: Odebrecht Entrepreneurial Technology.
“They leave this meeting as new friends, colleagues with different stories, but with the same ideal: to exercise productive leadership within their contexts and make the world a better place to live,” said Olindina Dominguez, responsible for CIADEN – Knowledge and Information to Support Business Development at Odebrecht.