Community enterprises in the Cerrado
“WWF-Brasil is doing an incredible job supporting extractivist communities in the Mosaic. First and foremost, they are providing hope, enabling people to live with dignity and preserve their traditional way of life,” says Luis Carrazza, Executive Secretary of the Central do Cerrado, a regional cooperative centre which helps local communities sell their produce to new markets.
The Mosaic Luis refers to is the Sertão Veredas Peruaçu Protected Area Mosaic (SVPM), an oasis of unspoiled nature within the Cerrado. Over the last decade, integrated efforts led by WWF-Brasil have turned the region into a model example of how conservation and sustainable livelihoods can be successfully married.
Supporting community enterprises has been a core element of a project which has involved government, NGOs, cooperatives, associations, and academic institutions. The early phase focused on the question of how conservation could best be reconciled with the demands of regional development and the livelihoods of local people. Over a four year period, WWF-Brasil organised a series of participatory workshops for hundreds of communities, aimed at evaluating the potential of extractivism and tourism in the region.
During this period, technical and financial support was also provided to help develop a brand identity, with the creation of an SVPM logo as a seal of authenticity for use on the packaging of produce from the region.
During the second phase, WWF-Brasil developed partnerships with three community enterprises: the Sertão Veredas Agri-silviculturalist and Extractivist Cooperative (Coop. Sertão Veredas), Pandeiros Small Agroextractivist Cooperative (Coopae), and the Peruaçu Valley Family Farmer and Agroextractivist Cooperative (Cooperuaçu).*
Through these partnerships, WWF provided training on best practice in fruit production and processing, supported the dissemination of good agricultural and forest restoration practices, the adoption of sustainable water management practices in small rural communities, and the construction of eco-friendly septic tanks and rainwater harvesting cisterns.
In partnership with the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (SEBRAE), training was provided to the cooperatives on various aspects of business management, while opportunities for SVPM products to reach new domestic and international markets were created through a partnership with Central Do Cerrado. Support was also given to help further professionalise the cooperatives, through the hiring of specialised staff to oversee administrative aspects of the business.
“WWF brings visibility and credibility to the work done by the communities, providing technical support and bringing together partners to kick start actions,” says Luis Carrazza.
*Creation of Cooperuaçu
Before the Sertões Project, of the three centres of
the SVPM, Peruaçu was the only one that did not
have an agroextractivist cooperative. In 2016, with
the support of SEBRAE, we helped create the Peruaçu
Valley Family Farmer and Agroextractivist Cooperative
(Cooperuaçu), bringing together 12 communities. One
of the features of Cooperuaçu is that its members
and directors are predominantly women."