From the challenges encountered with the decline of traditional regional cultures, this project enabled the farmers of the municipality of Novo Itacolomi, state of Paraná, productive diversification through the introduction of the culture of banana. Despite the low technological level of the first orchards deployed in the municipality, the culture had a good response in productivity and income, what prompted the immediate expansion of acreage and the number of farmers in the activity, encouraging families prone to leave the property to rethink their stay in the countryside.

Banana culture in Novo Itacolomi, besides enabling the increase of farmers' income, allowed the structuring and adding value throughout the production chain, consolidating the Municipality as one of the main poles of banana producers of Parana. In this process, the creation of the Cooperative of Family Farmers of Novo Itacolomi-COFAI was an event of great importance.

 

A - General information

 

START: August 1994 (in progress)

EXECUTING ENTITY: Parana Institute of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension - EMATER

Co-EXECUTING ENTITY: Cooperative of Family Farmers of Novo Itacolomi - COFAI

PARTNERS: Municipality of Novo Itacolomi, Banco do Brasil S.A, Sicredi Participações S.A - SICREDI, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Supply - SEAB

PRESENTED BY: Ovídio Cesar Barbosa

RESOURCES: Own

VALUE RANGE: Above US$25.000

CATEGORY: Project

MAIN THEMATIC AREA: Agriculture

KEYWORDS: Banana; Diversification; Family Agriculture; Local Development; Associations

TARGET AUDIENCE: Family Farmers of the municipality of Novo Itacolomi

LOCATION: Rural area

GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE: Municipal

SPECIFIC AREA OF DEPLOYMENT: Municipality of Novo Itacolomi, Paraná

 

B - Description of the practice

 

1 -BACKGROUND

The municipality of Novo Itacolomi, situated in the Central-North region of Paraná, as well as other municipalities in the State of Paraná, showed significant reduction in population in the period between the years 2000 and 2010. According to data of IBGE, the population of the municipality in 2000 was of 2866 inhabitants, showing reduction in 2010, when the population was 2827 inhabitants.

In this same period, it also noted the decrease in the rural population. In 2000 lived in rural areas 56.11% of the inhabitants, 48.83% in 2010. Specifically in Novo Itacolomi, this situation was result of the decline of the culture of cotton, of the process of bullk milk collection (which excluded from the activity the family farmers who could not adapt to the new standards), of cyclical crises of coffee culture and, above all, as a result of the loss of importance of the activities traditionally exploited in the municipality. Furthermore the increase of job opportunities in the industrial sector, mainly in the neighboring municipalities of Apucarana and Arapongas. These facts contributed to the rural exodus, with emphasis on the avoidance of the younger population.

The municipality had approximately 526 rural establishments, of which 417 characterized as rural family, classic public in the production chain of the culture of banana. The average size of establishments followed the characteristic profile of the 13 municipalities of Apucarana, as well as of the 399 municipalities in the State of Paraná (Table 01).

As a result of this reality, the farmers were seeking new alternatives that could allow the generation of income by taking advantage of available labor in the municipality, this labor mostly still lived in the rural area.

 

 2 - MAIN GOAL

Develop the culture of banana in the municipality of Novo Itacolomi, offering new work and income opportunity for family farmers.

Specific goals:

•Enable dynamism in the economy, ensuring the application of resources in the trade of the municipality;

•Reduce the rural exodus from the generation of employment in the field and in the other activities of the production chain (transport, industry and services);

•Become a center of diffusion of technologies, contributing to regional and State development;

•Support the diversification of agricultural activities, with emphasis on oleraceous and fruit culture.

 

3 - ADOPTED SOLUTION

Encouraged by extension agents of the EMATER Institute and supported by the municipality of Novo Itacolomi, small local producers had their first contact with the banana culture through visits and excursions to the municipalities of Apucarana and Andirá. In these events, the extension agents of the Institute presented information to farmers on production technology of culture (planting, pests, diseases, harvest and post-harvest, market and economic viability of the activity). The interested farmers had contact with the banana growers who presented successful experiences in the exploration of the banana. These visits contributed to the initial adhesion of two family farmers to the project, who adopted the culture in their properties with the monitoring of the local team of technical assistance and rural extension of EMATER in the municipality of Novo Itacolomi. The scarce financial resources of family farmers for investment in culture determined initially a low technological standard in its deployment that even though settled well due to the natural fertility of the soil and the absence of pests and diseases.

Despite the initial difficulties, the successful results of productivity and income of these pioneers, allied to the incentive of the technical team of the municipality, served to stimulate the entry of other producers to the activity. With the increase in the number of families and planted area in the municipality, new technological challenges emerged, such as the emergence of pests, diseases, low productivity, management of culture and market, demonstrating the need to improve the technological standard of the culture.

In order to answer these questions, farmers, Municipality and the technical team of the EMATER Institute started designing, so as participatory, actions that could solve such problems. Thus, a work plan of technical assistance was discussed and deployed, with actions and scheduled activities, enabling the implementation of several rural extension methodologies related to technical, social and economic aspects of the activity. Among the methodological strategies:

•Excursions to knowledge of research works with new productive technologies for the cultivation of banana, developed by the Company of agricultural Research and Rural Extension of Santa Catarina – EPAGRI;

•Creation of the Regional Meeting of Banana Producers, with technical lectures to producers, and even a contest called Concurso de Cachos de Banana (Bunches of Bananas Contest);

•Technical assistance to family farmers provided by the EMATER Institute;

•The municipality of Novo Itacolomi, in addition to support farmers on issues concerning the conservation of soils and improvement and conservation of roads, collaborates with EMATER in the technical assistance, having as a priority the banana culture;

•Banco do Brasil S.A. and Sicredi Participações S.A - SICREDI provide resources for credit for funding or investment of family farmers, prioritizing the resources of the National Program for the Strengthening of Family Agriculture-PRONAF;

•In mid-2009, the farmers realized the difficulties faced to consolidate the culture of banana, encouraged by the municipality and oriented by EMATER, initiated the discussion on the constitution of an organization that, in addition to represent them, presented solutions to the problems that they faced. This process culminated in the organization of producers through the creation of a Cooperative, aiming to optimize the acquisition of inputs and commercialization of the production.

 

4 - OBTAINED RESULTS

  • Banana culture's contribution to the stabilization of population of the municipality of Novo Itacolomi: IBGE data show a slight increase in population growth from 2007, coinciding with the increase of the area explored by the culture;
  • Increase in the Gross Value of Production (GVP): According to data of the Department of Rural Economy-DERAL, of the Secretary of State of agriculture and the supply of Paraná, the gross value of production in the municipality of Novo Itacolomi in the 1999/00 harvest was R$ 21.210,65 going to R$ 2.535,906,98 in the 2009/10 harvest and to R$ 5.124,850,31 in the 2012/13, turning the municipality into  reference in banana production;
  • Increase in the number of banana growers: between 1998 and 2014 there was a growth in the number of farmers involved in banana production (08 to 90), generating 378 direct jobs; There was also an increase in the area planted-10 hectares to 450 hectares-and productivity-16.529 kg/ha to 26.000 kg/ha. Regionally, in the same period, there was also an increase in the number of banana growers-55 to 200 producers; the area planted-109 acres to 696 hectares; and productivity-15.562 kg/ha to 22540 kg/ha. It is important to note that the culture of banana in Novo Itacolomi is part of a diversification process that also includes the cultivation of guava, oleraceous (tomato, cabbage and cassava), milk and poultry cutting;
  • Creation of the cooperative of Farmers of Novo Itacolomi – COFAI: creation of a cooperative at the end of the year in 2009, achievement that has contributed significantly to the strengthening of the culture of banana in the municipality and region, allowing the insertion of the producers in the institutional market (National School Feeding Program-PNAE and Food Acquisition Program-PAA). The cooperative participates in the Mais Gestão Public Call, being assisted by EMATER in the project management Institute;
  • Structuring of the banana production chain: the production chain was strengthened in its different segments - production, sale of inputs, production commercialization and industrialization. With respect to the commercialization, in addition to the cooperative, the municipality has 7 intermediaries who make the maturation process and marketing of the fruit for the whole Northern region of the State, including the Supply Centrals of the State of Paraná-CEASA-Londrina and Maringá units. These units rely on employees and own logistics, which has helped in boosting the local economy;
  • Installation of agro-industry: installation of a candy factory that produces banana monthly, about 9000 kg of candy sold throughout the country. This agribusiness currently generates 15 direct jobs;
  • Ease of access to agricultural credit: the region of Apucarana wasn't part of the agricultural zoning of the banana crop, this prevented farmers to have access to agricultural credit for funding or investment. With the increasing economic importance of the activity, the EMATER Institute, with the support of Banco do Brazil, COFAI and municipality of Novo Itacolomi created the Agronomic Institute of Paraná -IAPAR including the region in the banana cultures agricultural zoning, allowing access to credit for agricultural production.

 

5 - RESOURCES NEEDED

The team that worked on the deployment and conduct of the project proposal is basically composed by four agricultural technicians and three agronomists of the EMATER Institute, one of them being expert in horticulture. Eventually technical support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Supply-SEAB and of companies of resale of inputs.

With respect to the displacement to technical actions outside the municipality-visits, excursions, meetings, they are usually held with governmental programs resources-PRO-RURAL or PRONAF, resources of the municipality of Novo Itacolomi, of COFAI and of the farmers involved.

COFAI, through a partnership, has its headquarters installed with the EMATER Institute, with office supply (computers, tables, chairs, cabinets) for their routine activities.

 

6 - TRANSFER

The municipality of Novo Itacolomi has become a technological reference for other municipalities in the region and the State of Parana, getting frequently visits to exchange experiences and knowledge of their good results. The neighboring municipalities of Cambira, Arapongas, Bom Sucesso, Mandaguari, Sabáudia and Borrazópolis also began to explore the banana growing. Together, they form the fourth banana producer polo of Paraná with 705 hectares cultivated in 2012/13.

Among the institutions that have sought information about the practice, the Social Service for the Industry-SESI, with the movement "8 ways to change the world", the Advanced Campus of the Federal University of Paraná-Jandaia do Sul and units of the Social Service of Commerce-SESC of Londrina, Maringá and Campo Mourão.

 

7 - LESSONS LEARNED

The willingness of farmers to solve their problems in a collective way, culminating in the formation of a cooperative with 157 members in just six years, responsible for the sale of 10% of the municipal production, was one of the main factors that contributed to the success of the practice.

On the other hand, the low investment capacity of farmers and the lack of specialized technicians from both official and private entities to provide technical assistance in horticulture are obstacles to the strengthening of activity in the region. COFAI, along with the other partners, seeks to map out strategies to solve this problem.

It is also urgent the need for the adoption of new techniques of harvest, transport, sorting and maturation. To this end, technical and financial resources is necessary for restructuring this sector both at the level of ownership and cooperative.

 

A visit to the practice is available all year on working days, with previous appointment, with no limit of visitors.

 

 

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