Sustainable products are gaining an increasing amount of space on Brazilians' dining tables. That is what is indicated by a survey conducted by eCGlobal Solutions – a provider of technology solutions that maps data about consumer habits – in 2013, which listened to more than 2,000 Internet users and noted that 90% of consumers take into consideration the manufacturer's concern for environmental issues.
One of the institutions that focuses on combining the preservation of natural resources and environmentally friendly production processes with high added value is the Continental Water Aquaculturists' Cooperative (COOPECON). With operations in Bahia's Southern Lowlands, it promotes the creation of work and income for more than 60 families in the region and supplies tilapia filets to large retail stores throughout Brazil.
In order to contribute to this initiative and expand COOPECON's operations, Brazil's National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) will invest R$ 1,680,000.00. "The amount will make it possible to purchase equipment to expand production and the expectation is that more than 25 cooperative members will be incorporated," explains Marcelo Costa, Coordinator/Integrator at the Strategic Aquaculture Cooperative.
According to Marcelo Costa, by November 2014, net tanks, fiberglass boats, trucks, isothermic trunks, bodyworks and a refrigerator will be purchased, which will make it possible to reduce costs for the cooperative and increase productivity by 400 tons per year. "For cooperative members with up to 10 net tanks, the monthly income will be an increase of R$ 750.00. This number increases in accordance with the supply quantity of each associate," he explains.
For José Raimundo Santos, President of COOPECON's Governing Board and an aquaculturist, expanding production is fundamental to contributing to transforming the lives of the local population. "Before I joined, my average monthly income was a minimum wage. Today, it can reach more than R$ 2,000.00 and that is the reality for many who are part of the cooperative. Everything changed and the trend, with partnerships that strengthen our work, is to change even more."
Alessandra Mineiro, Administrator at BNDES's Unified Economy Department, states that support for the aquaculturists in the Southern Lowlands is part of the search to contribute to improving the quality of life for this population, which needs opportunities in order to guarantee their livelihood. “In partnership with the Odebrecht Foundation, we have been able to work together to make the region's economy more dynamic and contribute to generating work and income in the field,” she said.
The investment is the result of the Technical and Financial Cooperation Agreement signed in 2009 by BNDES and the Odebrecht Foundation. with a six-year term, the agreement covers investments in social, production, environmental and training actions for the Bahia Southern Lowlands Environmental Protection Area Mosaic Program for Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability (PDCIS).