Recognizing good technological practices applied to environmental conservation in agriculture: this is the goal of the Sustainable Rural Award – Sustainability for Rural Development, granted by the Sustainable Rural Project (PRS). In December 2018, the Land Conservation Organization (OCT), an institution supported by the Odebrecht Foundation through the Development and Integrated Growth Program with Sustainability (PDCIS), was chosen in three subcategories of the award, with its work among small farmers in the Southern Bahia Lowlands receiving nationwide attention.
More than 600 projects were submitted, of which 100 were selected for the final stage and 20 emerged as winners. OCT won in the “Publication and Continuation of Public Policies” subcategory. Two partner farmers and the respective OCT technicians that provide guidance to their properties were also honored by the Award in other subcategories. All award winners will receive cash prizes to continue their work towards promoting sustainability in rural areas.
“This achievement fills us with pride and satisfaction because it values the essential nature of the assistance we provide. It also represents a practical and objective result of OCT in its basic role, which is that of productive education as an instrument for developing communities in the pursuit of their destinies. This strengthens our actions”, said Joaquim Cardoso, Executive Director of OCT.
Agriculture allied with the environment
In the “Innovation and Experimentation” subcategory, the winners were farmer Jairo de Souza from Igrapiúna, Bahia, and technician Joeli Neres, who said that results such as this benefit OCT’s presence in the Southern Bahia Lowlands. “The Award doesn’t just recognize our commitment, but facilitates our work in the field. When we are asked about the effectiveness of sustainable techniques, we can show the example of farmers who decided to work respecting nature and that it is possible to prosper without degrading”, said Neres.
In Souza’s opinion, the award is proof that it is possible to cultivate in harmony with nature. “OCT offers us daily support, teaching how to plant and take care of the land. My wife and I keep on doing our best and seeing the fruits of our labor. Now we earned an award and my land continues to prosper, proving that it works and that agriculture can be different”.
In the “Job and Income Creation” subcategory, the winners were Raimundo de Jesus from Piraí do Norte, Bahia, and OCT technician Amauri de Souza. In Souza’s opinion, this is a fact to be shared with everyone. “It means that we are on the right track, providing farmers with high-quality technical support focused on conservation, valuing the social, environmental and economic aspects and, especially, respecting traditional knowledge, which is an asset our farmers have. This is one way of honoring the work done by OCT”.
The institution has been executing environmental projects in Jesus’ property since 2012. According to Raimundo, it is a necessary support for the development of his area. The award, however, was a surprise. “We are very glad. I never expected that this could happen, but thanks to the OCT team and Sustainable Rural project, we are here”. Martinha de Jesus, his wife and who helps him in the field, added: “I’m very happy for what OCT does for us. They are dedicated and are keen to help. If we have any doubts, they are always here. I trust the work”.
The award ceremony is scheduled for this year. For more information about the Sustainable Rural project and to access the complete list of award winners, visit www.ruralsustentavel.org.