In order to allow their children to determine their own life paths, it is important for parents to be aware of the decisions that they plan to make so that they can orient them about the best course to follow. This is the reality of the brothers Alberto and Thiago dos Santos, ages 19 and 16, respectively, residents of the Karin Settlement located in the rural zone of Ituberá, region of the Southern Bahia Lowlands. The youth, both second-year students at the Igrapiúna Rural Family House (CFR-I), receive the support of their parents to conduct their work in the fields and have already planted their own crops along 1.5 hectares of land located on the family’s property.
“I began an intercropped plantation with rubber trees, cacao and banana, known as the SAF – Agroforest System,” said Alberto. “In eight months, I’ll harvest the bananas and guarantee the income to reinvest in my business,” he said. His brother Thiago developed a nursery with seedlings of the heart of palm bush, which are ready to be planted: “Despite the fact that few farmers cultivate heart of palm here in the community, I know that it is a special crop, since it has transformed the lives of many people from the region,” said Thiago.
Thiago’s choice is also based on his plans for the future, since he will become a member of the Southern Bahia Lowlands Heart of Palm Producers’ Cooperative (COOPALM). “As a cooperative member, I have the guarantee that I can transport my own production and sell it at the best price. In addition to this, I also want to encourage my friends and neighbors to join COOPALM as well,” he said. Their mother, Marilene dos Santos, age 46, emphasizes her sons’ discipline. “Their studies at CFR-I helped a lot,” she said. “I don’t even have to remind them to take care of their duties. When I look, there they are in the fields, plowing the earth, planting the seedlings,” she said, smiling. The youth also participated in the Tribute to the Future Program, which supports the educational-production projects developed by the graduates of the Family Houses.
Pair that Produces
Another two brothers have had experiences similar to those of Alberto and Thiago. The youth Darlan, age 18, and his brother Erivan Conceição, age 19, residents of the Limoeiro Settlement in Igrapiúna, also study at CFR-I and help their parents care for the manioc and guarana crops. With the support of Tribute to the Future, they began to work together to prepare 1.5 hectares for intercropped planting – cacao, rubber tree and banana.
“I really liked to work with agriculture,” said Darlan. “If we learn how to conduct the activities well, there is no reason to leave the rural life,” he said. The youth further reported that, despite already knowing about agricultural work, the experience earned at CFR-I has contributed directly toward improving his knowledge. “I didn’t know how to fertilize correctly and this affected the growth of the crops,” he said. “It was at CFR-I that I learned to better care for my crops and even those which my parents maintained on the property.” Erivan added: “I want to show my community that it is possible to live in the rural zone and earn income,” he said. “This begins within the home, orienting our parents on the best way to do it. When you work the right way, the result comes immediately.”
COOPALM and CFR-I are a few of the institutions that are part of the Southern Bahia Lowlands Environmental Protection Area Mosaic Program for Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability (PDCIS), an initiative supported by the Odebrecht Foundation and public and private partners.