„Fruticultura“ – fruits of a friendship!

A fruit plantation for learning and working

 

“Fruticultura” means fruit-growing in English and this is the name of the new development project of the Kolping community in Porto and the students’ initiative Brasil09. We build up a fruit cooperative. Youths from Porto are learning how to grow and process fruit. They buy surplus fruit from families and sell their products nearby.

The project

On a property of three hectares the adolescents are going to put up a fruit garden. They grow acerola and guava and different other plants to show the wealth of the nature of their native country. Two thirds of the ground area is still containing nearly a primeval forest with up to 200 years old babaçu-coconut- trees and impenetrable undergrowth. This area we have put under protection, we want to maintain the natural diversity, experience and appreciate it.

The first of the little fruit-trees are planted, from the second half of 2014 the youth can earn their own fruits. Until then they just buy fruits by families in Porto and the underdeveloped settlements in the interior countryside and process that. The people of Porto are coming with donkey-carts, bicycles and baskets to the Casa das Frutas, to get a little subsidy to cover the basic needs of their families. The young members of fruticultura are making the fruits into polpa, freeze-dried pulp, and preserving it on this way. From this one can make juice, jam and other typical foods of the region.

The adolescents will be trained for three months, than they will be paid first. Their wage depends on the harvest but as well on their deligence and their engagement. After one year they get a certificate over their agricultural basic training. Mostly they will have learned how to build up an existence, to invest and to calculate.

Background of the project

Most of the young people in Porto do not have any professional perspectives. Many of them move to the big cities in the south of the country, hoping to find a job there. This is what the development of the poor region is making more and more difficult.

The dry season in the Sertão lasts ten to eleven months a year. But as the town Porto is situated near to the Rio Parnaíba, agriculture still has a big potential, because the ground is very fertile. One can see this during the rainy period, when the dried countryside flourishes and brings forth a great diversity of plants. In the agricultural school the youths will learn how to nourish themselves by their own cultivation despite the difficult circumstances. This possibility will improve the life of many families in the poor and dry area in the long run. With the experience how to build up a small enterprise they will have the possibility to start their own business, realizing their own ideas.

Development of the project

The first ideas for a fruit growing project the Portuenses had in 2009. The concrete planning began in October 2012 during a visit of four German students to Brazil. Together with youths and organizers from Porto they visited various fruit cooperatives in Piauí and asked the employees‘ advice. Especially the teachers of the agricultural school Escola Família Agricola in São João do Arraial and the employees of the cooperatives Fruto Daqui in José de Freitas and Frutas da Terra in Piripiri could help us with their experiences.

For two years the Kolping community of Porto worked out the project with Brazilian and German students. For us it was important, that the Brazilian adolescents would be able to plan and organise by themselves as much as possible and would have prompt learning successes. The more carefully they grow up their plants and take care for them, the more committedly they invite their neighbours, relatives or friends to bring their fruits to the Casa das Frutas, the more they will earn and see, how they will contribute to the development of Porto.

Realizing and concrete steps

Already in July 2011 we bought about three hectares of land outside of Porto and registered it. The wild vegetation on the front part was just removed and mowed. The area was fenced to save the young fruit-trees by free-range cows, pigs, goats, donkeys and mules. Furthermore a well was sinked in July 2013 and prepared for trickle irrigation. At the beginning of the rainy season in early 2014 the seedlings will be planted. A qualified farm worker is going to help and coordinate the adolescents with these works.

In the beginning of 2013 the house of the Kolping community was rebuilt to the Casa das Frutas. Additional walls were built and tiled. The sanitary facilities were replaced completely. Then the juice extractor, mixer, freezer and balances were bought and the adolescents were be trained. In March 2014 the production of pulp began.

The irrigation system on the ground should run on solar power. Also the freezers in the Casa de Frutas are meant to run on solar energy out of our own photovoltaic power station at least during the day. We still have to discuss with solar enterprises and public energy supply companies whether they can use energy from a battery during the night or if they have to be fed by the public net.

Cooperation with local partners

We get technical support by the north-east Brazilian institute Emater, which supports the sustainable development of rural regions and agriculture. This institute finds local professionals, who are teaching people in different agricultural areas according to the principle help for self-help. By now, Aldo Queiroz, an employee of Emater, is renting a bureau in our Centro da Juventude, which was constructed by Brazilian and German youths in 2009. He is going to accompany the project and to arrange some contact to other professionals.

The Brazilian government is going to hire a coordinator for the next two years within the framework of a social economy program, who is going to look after our and three other social projects in the region. The representative Marcelino de Oliveira worked as dependable site supervision on the youth centre in 2009. Until now we have friendly and close contacts to him.

The national service for rural education (“Senar” - Serviço nacional de aprendizagem rural) had organised and sponsored two workshops on processing and selling fruits in 2013. For the following years the workshops have not been confirmed yet. Still our Brazilian partners are sure to be able to finance these courses every year with the help of a social program.

Selling and planning safety

For being able to sell the pulp on the Brazilian market, we have to register as a label and get a licence. We want to get a permission for the entire state of Piauí, for that we will be able to sell our products to customers not living in Porto as well.

Customers for the pulp are already found. According to a Brazilian law all schools and public institutions have to buy at least one third of the food they give to their pupils and employees from small local farms. The three schools in Porto do not fulfil this law right now, because there is no local supplier. So in the course of the project up to 4,000 pupils are going to benefit from Fruticultura. 

Development exchange keeps the project moving on

Like all our other projects, we are developing “Fruticultura” further during our exchange visits. When we are in Brazil, we are working together with our Brazilian friends on the plantation. The visits are an essential part of the project. They help us better understanding the local problems and not to lose the aim. They are also motivating the Brazilians, who like to show us their achievements. Getting our own ideas is helping us to fund money effectively, because our impressions are one of the reasons our founders trust us that much.

The encounters establish our Brazilian-German friendship, the main motivation to keep working is to see our friends again soon.