The effort of the babassu coconut breakers in Maranhão to conquer the international market with a sustainable product of traditional origin benefits from technical assistance from Central do Cerrado, a cooperative based in Brasilia.
Central do Cerrado is a secondary cooperative, that is, an association formed by other cooperatives and social organizations – 24 in all, in nine states. Its headquarters are in Brasilia, with a branch in São Paulo and a box at the São Paulo Pine Market.
The sales center aims to provide scale, ensure standardization and increase the added value of products, coordinating producers spread over the second largest Brazilian biome (2 million km2). Taxes, freight, etc. paid, about 24% of sales with the products go to member cooperatives.
One of his challenges, explains coordinator Mayk Arruda, he went to organize the baru chain to meet the demand of an importer in the United States who needed to fill a 24ft container (
m X 2.4 m X 2.6 m). In Brasilia, the Centrale installed cable cars with 24 cerrado products in nine Carrefour stores.
Currently, Central, Coppalj and Assema are supporting the creation of the Free Babaçu Consortium, with the aim of “promoting the sustainable use of babaçu forests, by expanding the supply of babassu coconut oil with origins. identifiable and measurable socio-environmental issues that promote biodiversity conservation and equity. and an equitable distribution of economic gains ”.
The project benefited from 544 funding of US $ 98,000 (98,000 BRL) from WWF Brazil and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), set up by the French Development Agency, by the NGO Conservation International, by the European Union, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan and the World Bank.
The Centrale sees a market opportunity for babassu, given the demand from the cosmetic and food sectors for an alternative vegetable oil to palm kernel (palm kernel), the target of social and environmental complaints in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
In addition, gluten-free flour is extracted from the babassu mesocarp. to use in baking – for example, in a brownie recipe by Bela Gil and in a range of cake mixes for the Mãe Terra brand signed by her. The same flour is already used by industry as vegetable talc, a substitute for non-renewable mineral resources.
The Babaçu Livre Consortium project had to be resized after the evaporation of R $ 15 million that had been approved in a 544 notice by the Amazon Fund. The contract was about to be signed, but it was delayed due to a bureaucratic detail, then came the government of Jair Bolsonaro and the boycott of the fund by then-minister Ricardo Salles.
“There, we no longer hear about it,” laments Mayk Arruda.
Journalists Lalo de Almeida and Marcelo Leite traveled at the invitation of the IEB (Brazilian International Institute of Education) and CEPF (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund).