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Cooperatives and agroecology hand in hand: discover the work of Grande Sertão

Cooperatives and agroecology hand in hand: discover the work of Grande Sertão

by Luana Luizy, Communication Officer, International Education Institute of Brazil


Combined with environmental conservation, the Grande Sertão cooperative, in Montes Claros, also north of MG, was founded in 2003, and works with food from family farming.

The standout product is the buriti oil, used by the cosmetic and food industries.

The tasty sour coconut beer. Photo: Grande Sertão Collection

Currently, Grande Sertão has 230 members, covers 30 municipalities and indirectly involves 2 thousand families and 350 rural communities. “We are looking for new commercialization channels to strengthen us even more, and everything is done  within the principles of sustainable management ”, points out Fábio Soares, leader of the cooperative.

Altogether, more than 25 species are processed, such as araticum, cagaita, murici, cajá, jatobá, pequi, among others. Honey, rapadura and cachaça are also part of the list of products sold by Grande Sertão, which also produces and sells a tasty delicacy made from sour coconut: craft beer which is already famous throughout Brazil.

Partnership with CEPF Cerrado and IEB

With the support of Partnership Fund for Critical Ecosystems (CEPF Cerrado) and International Institute of Education of Brazil (IEB), through the project & #8220; Buriti & #8211; income generation for young people and women, conservation of Veredas and Chapadas & #8221;, a buriti production chain for the Grande Sertão it came out strengthened. The project favored the extraction and commercialization of oil from the fruit, contributing to the conservation of the Veredas, a type of ecosystem in the Cerrado where the palm tree is born and an important birthplace of springs. “Based on the initiative, we gave strength to trade to be structured; it was also an instrument to maintain these conserved areas ”, says Aryanne Amaral, project assistant for CEPF Cerrado's implementation strategy.

Buriti shavings. Photo: Grande Sertão Cooperative Collection

The commercialization of oil was successful, and today, Grande Sertão has reached the international market with the product and has renowned clients, such as the Brazilian giant Natura. Women and youth were involved in this process and benefited, being important players in the conservation of the Cerrado.

In the buriti production chain, women are ahead: they collect, extract oil, pulp, dry and pack. With this project, women started to have financial autonomy ”, says Fábio Soares.


Family farmer. Photo: Grande Sertão Cooperative Collection

The pandemic, of course, also brought impacts on the daily lives of associates Grande Sertão, which saw sales plummet. If it is not possible to sell family farming products at collective fairs, cooperative members needed to rethink the survival mechanisms in the market.

“We have more than 30 tons of fruit pulp stocked, with an expiration date to expire. We are looking for new strategies, such as turning these pulps into jellies, or developing a ready-made juice line. But we have a challenge, since we don't use preservatives; the product is natural ”, ponders Soares.

About Grande Sertão

The Grande Sertão Cooperative develops actions around the sustainability and agroecology, with the objective of promoting the strengthening of agroextractive communities. Associations and cooperatives, good production practices with Cerrado fruits, promote the management and conservation of rural territories where sustainable agroextractivism is practiced.


For more information about the Grande Sertão, visit: https://www.facebook.com/cooperativagrandesertao/

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of the French Development Agency, Conservation International, the European Union, Global Environmental Management, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. A key goal is to ensure that civil society is involved in biodiversity conservation.


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