The relationship with the land goes way back. Since he was just 12 years old, Marcelo Roma has been in contact with the rural area. Son of a farmer and resident of the community of Gendiba, located in the Bahia municipality of Presidente Tancredo Neves, at age of 23, the youth has already treaded his own path: “I’m a rural entrepreneur and I had the chance to change my own history,” he explained. “It is the time to focus on work and development in the rural region.”
Roma is a former student of the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Family Home (CFR-PTN) – an institution associated with the Bahia Southern Lowlands Environmental Protection Area Mosaic Program for Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability (PDCIS), supported by the Odebrecht Foundation together with public and private partners.In 2012, he completed his technical qualification in Agriculture integrated with High School – training that is based on Trade-Off Teaching:one week that is full-time, learning in both the classroom and on the field, and another two weeks on his family’s property, applying the new knowledge acquired. During his three years at CFR-PTN, he learned about rural administration, cooperativism, soil management, irrigation and drainage, as well as a range of different crops.
During the second year of the program, he developed two educational production projects focused on banana and manioc planting.“I worked in partnership with a land owner from the region, since my family’s area is small, only two hectares and nearly all occupied,” he said.The raw materials necessary for the cultivation were supplied with the support of the Tribute to the Future Program.
Roma was able to overcome the different obstacles that appeared.“During the second planting, I expanded my projects by reinvesting the resources earned from the first:the cultivation of banana increased from one to three hectares, and manioc, from one to five,” he said.“It has always been my dream to work with agriculture, but before joining the House I was discouraged, because I didn’t have any profitability.”
The crops guaranteed him financial return.However, the lack of land continued to be an obstacle, until an initiative created by CFR-PTN in partnership with the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Producers’ Cooperative (COOPATAN) – of which he is member and which is also a part of PDCIS – allowed him to expand his crops.The Land Access Fund (FAT) is a mechanism designed to provide financial assistance to small producers, giving them the conditions to care for their agricultural projects and so that they can live exclusively and fully from their income generated in the field.Initially, seven youth were chosen by the fund and are receiving support to acquire land.Roma is one of them.
In three months, the youth surpassed his goals, even anticipating his plantations.“I exceeded my budget and decided to invest what I had,” said Roma.“With the support of a partner, who also studied at CFR-PTN, we are working for a better future. We want to show the world that it makes no sense to be prejudiced against rural producers.We are the driving force of the city, of the world,” he emphasized.
The youth is currently making plans to finalize the crop planting and acquire new areas to improve his income, currently around R$ 2,000 per month, with the crops developed on third party lands.“I would like the young farmers to have more opportunities, like I did,” he said.“A chance to change history.I fulfilled the dream of having a property, one I can call my own.My focus is here, since I’m the owner of my business.”