written by Livia Montenegro
photo by Márcio Lima
The greatest pride of Daniela de Jesus Guedes, 19, is living in the country side beside her family. Daughter of farmers, she lives with her parents and two brothers in the community of Gendiba, in the municipality Presidente Tancredo Neves, in the state of Bahia. Every day they wake up at 5 am to work on their crops of cassava, banana and cocoa. The family does not own their land, and, through a partnership with their neighbor, they develop crops, sharing with him the sales value of the products.
The entire banana cultivation is marketed by the Cooperative of Rural Producers of Tancredo Neves (Coopatan), which also absorbs the cassava production and transforms it into flour. Daniela’s mother, Valdelice Maria de Jesus, 43, ensures that income and quality of life improved since she joined the cooperative. “We received a little more than the minimum wage and today we earn about R$5,000 per month. This value is divided with the owner of the land,” she says.
Families like Daniela’s will benefit from the implementation of one of the most modern factories of flour in the country, which will be installed at the headquarters of Coopatan, in Tancredo Neves. The achievement is the result of an Agreement for Technical and Financial Cooperation between the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social – BNDES) and the Odebrecht Foundation. Signed in 2009 and with implementation in six years, the Agreement includes investments for the Program of Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability of the Mosaic Environmental Protection Areas of Southern Bahia (PDCIS), fostered by the Odebrecht Foundation and by public and private partners.
Coopatan is one of the institutions linked to the PDCIS and guarantees income and quality of life for its 293 members, in addition to offering quality products to partners and customers. “Our work is essential to the strengthening of cassava and fruit trees production in the region,” says Juscelino Macedo, Coordinator of the Cassava and Fruit Crops Business in the PDCIS.
To implement the factory, over R$5,000,000 will be allocated. The investment includes the acquisition of modern equipment, which will ensure the complete hygiene and standardization of production. Macedo says that construction began in March and should be completed in a year. He adds that among the main benefits to the members, are the increase in the average monthly income of R$640, and an increase in the number of members, which can grow more than 30% over the next four years.”
White and yellow cassava flours will be processed in addition to cassava dough and puba (the dough extracted from fermented cassava). The products will meet the requirements of the large supermarket networks that have partnerships with PDCIS for the certification of the brands – companies that already sell Coopatan items in their stores.
BNDES’s support has also made possible the construction of the Centre for Professional Training Construir Melhor, in Valença, as well as the acquisition of machinery, agricultural implements and vehicles for the Cooperative of Palm Heart Producers of Southern Bahia. Additionally, funds have been made available for the renovation and expansion of the Rural Family Houses of Igrapiúna and Agroforestry, teaching units that offer training on the reality of the field for youths from Southern Bahia.