It is clear that the smiles on the faces of the 17 family farmers from the municipalities of the Pratigi Environmental Protection Area, located in the Bahia Southern Lowlands, are there for a reason. At the start of this year, after an audit by the Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification Institute (IMAFLORA), they earned the social and environmental certification from the Sustainable Agricultural Network (RAS), identified by the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal.
RAS consists of a group of institutions that promote socially and environmentally sustainable agricultural production by developing and applying standards and policies. The properties that comply with the RAS Standard are certified and receive the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ (RAC) Seal. It is internationally recognized and attests to the fact that the producers followed the standards that respect the conservation of natural resources, such as water and soil, and that they protected the forest, wildlife and ecosystems while adopting dignified and safe work conditions.
In order to obtain the seal, the Southern Lowlands farmers, which produce cacao, received technical support from the Land Conservation Organization (OCT), an institution that is part of the Governance Pact of the Bahia Southern Lowlands Environmental Protection Area Mosaic Program for Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability (PDCIS), supported by the Odebrecht Foundation and public and private partners.
Farmers use Personal Protection Equipment to guarantee their own safety
Jairo de Souza, from the Vale do Riachão community, and Edvaldo de Jesus, from the Feira do Rato community, both located in Igrapiúna, Bahia, are two of the certified farmers. For Souza, the experience increased his knowledge and helped make his production more efficient. “Before, I used chemical fertilizer, and when I cataloged the crops, I was disorganized,” said Souza. “Today, I follow all of the techniques to optimize my work and I no longer use pesticides,” he said.
Over the past three years, the group of farmers received training and worked hard to improve their production, environmental adjustment and reforestation techniques. Some of them currently offer environmental services, such as the protection of the sources, and are compensated for their work. “I’m taking care of the water and animals; I changed my way of working the land,” said Edvaldo de Jesus. “Every day, I see more visible results on my property,” he said.