Initiative sponsored by CBA by way of the ReDes Program drives income generation in North Goiás
Smallholders in Niquelândia, north Goiás, are betting on sugarcane-based products, such as rapadura made from Cerrado fruits, molasses and brown sugar, to boost their income. By way of the ReDes Program, a partnership between the Votorantim Institute and the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES0, with the support of Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio (CBA), the Smallholders Association of Córrego Dantas (Acorda) is expecting to grow gains with the new produce. The estimated growth for 2022 is 7%. Following the consultancy which began in 2019, and the investment to build a sweet factory, members grew their sales in the second half of 2022. The president of Acorda, Wildes Gumber de Melo, explains that the 30-year association did not have a focus, a single joint production. From bamboo furniture to planting vegetables, there were multiple ideas, but it was sugarcane that led them to discover a common objective. “Our sales were poor, which was when ReDes began and showed us the light at the end of the tunnel. We began with a sugarcane nursery and our project was approved”, he recalls. The initial rapadura production began in ranches and backyards, to supplement other earnings. “It used to be for subsistence purposes but now it’s the opposite”, says Wildes. In pursuit of differentials, the group currently consisting of nine producers attended courses and realized that adding baru, babussu and Cerrado fruits imparted a unique flavor to the rapaduras and enjoyed great success amongst people trying them. New flavors – In the region between Niquelândia and Uruaçu, rapadura is frequently sold with papaya, in addition to traditional versions and with milk, which the factory of the Doces Vidas project continues to offer. “We implemented new recipes including manioc, peanuts and fruit, which sold like hotcakes in the tourist region of the lake”, asserts Wildes. The combination of harvesting and production in small allotments results in a unique flavor. Members also thought outside the box in respect of the product’s format: they adopted rapadurinha, a mini pocket-sized version, and spoon rapadura, the result of a recipe that appeared to have gone wrong. “We couldn’t get the right consistency when beating it, so we stored it in a jar so as not to throw it away, and ate it. It was a delicious sweet”, enthused the president. We also created different flavored versions of this creamy desert, including cinnamon, clove and milk. Processing plant – With the processing plant and packaging now ready, this year will be the first time that these recipes will gain production scale and already have orders. Our primary commitment is to the National School Meals Program (PNAE), which Wildes explains is expected to yield a financial result of R$80 thousand. In addition to the rapadurinha, harvested products will be sent to schools such as pequi and cagaita, as well as baru and jatobá flour. The factory delivered last year is sectioned into areas for processing sugarcane and product preparation. Firstly, the cane arrives for crushing and the juice produced runs into the pans. It is then prepared in the tanks, baskets and molds. A dedicated machine is used for brown sugar which has replaced manual production. The sweets are then packaged after preparation. Acorda expects the producers will be able to make 8 thousand rapadurinhas a month, and the daily production capacity is estimated at 75 kg of rapadura and 50 kg of brown sugar. As molasses tests have not yet begun, Wildes explains it is not possible to estimate how much this product could also yield. Due to the consultancy provided by ReDes, it is now intended to diversify the ways this product is presented. Consultancy – From the design of the packaging to production in the field, the consultancy helps the group professionalize, follow health surveillance standards and have a sustainable production, in a correct environment geared towards good practices, as well as helping sales strategies. Acorda’s differentials include the fact producers are striving for ecologically friendly farming. Harvesting has all influence the pursuit of learning about producing Cerrado plant saplings and is giving a platform to preserving the biome given the threat posed by growing monoculture in the region. Before ReDes, household income derived from multiple sources and the Association made ends meet by hosting an annual party including presentations of folk and forró bands and the holding of charity auctions. Unfortunately, though, these festivities were canceled on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. ReDes Program – With the aim of bolstering the sustainable development of Brazil’s towns and cities, the ReDes Program consists of a partnership between the Votorantim Institute and the BNDES, with sponsorship of Votorantim S.A. portfolio companies. Initiated in 2010 it now has a presence in 56 cities in 15 states and the Federal District. The initiative helps structure inclusive businesses and joins together production chains with the methodology that includes community participation in all stages. The program benefits 2,500 families and has generated R$ 53 million in income for them.