His calling was always agriculture. Son of a rural producer, Juscelino Conceição, age 44, spent his entire childhood in the fields and had his father as a reference. At the age of 28, attracted by the promise of a more dignified life in the urban area, he had an experience that would change his family’s life forever. He convinced his wife and children to leave the rural zone and adventure out in search of better living conditions in the city. “Believing that living in the urban zone would be better, I sold part of the property I inherited from my father and bought a smaller house,” he explained. “I spent more than a year working with commerce, but the business did not work out. Without income, I saw no alternative other than to return to the rural region.”
Conceição arrived to the community of Margarida Alves, located in Ituberá, Bahia. He went back to growing his crops, primarily the rubber tree cultivation. Soon after, he met the technicians from the Bahia Southern Lowlands Heart of Palm Producers’ Cooperative (COOPALM), and duly oriented, he decided to invest in heart of palm. The results began to appear and with the necessary assistance, he had the opportunity to become the owner of his own business. “At that time, I became a member of the cooperative, and since then, I have delivered my production there,” he said.
COOPALM is one of the institutions associated with the Bahia Southern Lowlands Environmental Protection Area Mosaic Program for Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability (PDCIS), supported by the Odebrecht Foundation and partners.
The 500 stems selected and harvested per month by the farmer are sent to Ambial, the partner industry for COOPALM, where the heart of palm is processed until being stored in pots, which adds value to the product. In this way, the product continues on to the supermarket shelves and is available for customer consumption. “With my son and wife, we care for nine hectares of land, 1.5 of which is dedicated to the heart of palm,” he explained. “I recently began growing this crop, and with it alone, I have made monthly earnings of R$ 600. Today, I live well and plan to develop my business even more. With COOPALM, I know this will be possible,” he said.