The Bellé Agro-industry has established itself as support for families which develop ecological agriculture and extractive in Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul State, promoting the use of not sold family farm production as processed products such as juices, drinks, squashes, jams and sweets. It works more than 15 years processing and bringing to the market products free of pesticides and preservatives. The development of this practice arose from the need to promote the maintenance of local biodiversity, contributing to the balance of ecosystems by encouraging the cultivation of Non-conventional Food Plants (PANC's) and reduced production waste.

 

This practice promotes diversification and increases the income of small farmers, encourages sustainable harvest and the preservation of native forests, allowing the match between country and city, past and present, as well as the approchement between people and nature.

 

A - General Information

 

START: 12/1990 (in progress)

EXECUTING ENTITY: Agroindústria Família Bellé

PARTNERSHIPS: Southern Association of Credit and Rural Assistance – EMATER/ASCAR-RS; Extension Group "Community Farms" – Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul - UFRGS; Work Group of Regional Cuisine of Rio Grande do Sul; Network Oriented Toward the Development of Agroecology - RODA-UFRGS; Postgraduate Programme in Rural Development – PGDR – UFRGS; "An Agronomic View with an Ecological Ideal" – UVAIA - UFRGS; Institute of Environmental Studies of Rio Grande do Sul - Ingá - UFRGS; Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - EMBRAPA Temperate Climate; Cooperativa Aecia de Agricultores Ecologistas Ltda; Regional Cooperative of Ecological Producers of the North Coast of Rio Grande do Sul and Southern Santa Catarina – EcoNativa; Centre of Eco-Consulting and Training in Ecological Agriculture – Ipê and the North Coast; Ministry of Rural Development, Fisheries and Cooperatives of Rio Grande do Sul - SDR-RS; Technical Chamber of Agroecology - SDR-RS; Agroecological Association Fair of Ecological Farmers of Porto Alegre – FAE; Centre of Popular Alternatives Technologies - CETAP; Municipal Council of Antônio Prado; Corporation of Agricultural and Livestock Research and Rural Extension of Santa Catarina – EPAGRI; Banco do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul S.A. - Banrisul

PRESENTED BY: Franciele Belle

RESOURCES: Own and third-party resources

COST RANGE: Over USD 25 thousand

CATEGORY: Reference Unit

MAIN THEMATIC AREA: Food and Nutritional Security

KEY WORDS: Family Agriculture; Biodiversity; Native Fruits; Agribusiness; Agroecology; Agrobiodiversity; Organic Products; Family Succession; Sustainable Development; Diversification; Youth in Agriculture.

TARGET PUBLIC: Farmers who work with organic systems, agroforestry and sustainable extractive activities, especially of native fruits; students, teachers and consumers aware of the importance of biodiversity as a source of healthy food, cultural preservation and the environment.

LOCATION: Rural area

GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE: Southern Region

SPECIFIC IMPLEMENTATION AREA: The states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina

 

B - Practice Description

 

1- BACKGROUND

In the late 1980s, the farmer Nélio Bellé, of the Municipality of Antônio Prado, Rio Grande do Sul, decided he wanted to change how he managed his farm, so he abandoned conventional agriculture and dedicated himself to agroecology. At first, the producer sold tomatoes, grapes and vegetables, and encouraged family members and friends to follow his example.

It was around that time that the family realized that, despite the abundant regional flora, the lack of information of the rural population in relation to the productive potential of Unconventional Food Plants (UCFP) resulted in the considerable availability of native products that were not being commercially exploited. Due to this lack of knowledge, the consumption of products from the native regional forests was insignificant. Many producers deforested areas of their properties for fear of being unable to exploit them in the future.

Realizing the market potential, Nélio Bellé expanded his range of products and started to produce juice, jam, sweets and sauces by increasing his own production and buying from other local producers. This was the first step towards the establishment of the family-owned company Agroindustria Bellé in 1990, which produced a wide range of pesticide-free and preservative-free food products.

 

 

2- OBJECTIVE

To support families that work with agroecological production and sustainable extractivism in the region. This activity is based on using the surplus to prepare commercial products, while considering the need to maintain and recover local biodiversity. It also involves collaborating in the organization of the ecosystem by encouraging the planting and cultivation of native fruits.

Specific objectives:

To become a reference to families that work with agroecological and extractivist production in southern Brazil;

To benefit from the availability of native fruits to prepare products of higher added value;

To develop and offer new products for a healthy diet;

To increase the income of family farmers;

To encourage the maintenance and conservation of local agrobiodiversity;

To narrow the gap between the urban population and nature by presenting the whole wealth of flavours and biodiversity of our region;

To educate society on the importance of appreciating and preserving nature;

To reduce deforestation and the rural exodus;

To encourage consumers to discover the striking flavours of native fruits and their nutritional powers, which can help prevent several diseases without the need for chemical drugs.

 

3 - ADOPTED SOLUTION

The acquisition of native fruits available in rural properties that are not marketed by small producers to prepare a series of healthy products with a high nutritional value and greater added value, like sweets, jams, juices, drinks, purees, etc.. These products were named "tastes of childhood," because they remind consumers of the fruit they ate as children;

The certification of ecological products through the ECOVIDA Agroecology Network  – participatory certification;

To prioritize the marketing of products in fairs and small specialty stores that they already know or that sell native fruit products, with the support of the Regional Cooperative of Ecological Producers of the North Coast of Rio Grande do Sul and Southern Santa Catarina (Econativa) and the Agroecological Association Fair of Ecological Farmers of Porto Alegre (FAE), in order to better clarify consumers who were not familiar with unconventional food plants. Tasting at fairs and alternative sales points for consumers to experience alternative, unconventional products; 

Guidance, technical assistance and courses for rural producers provided by partners like the Association of Enterprises of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension of Rio Grande do Sul and the Southern Association of Credit and Rural Assistance – EMATER/ASCAR, Corporation of Agricultural and Livestock Research and Rural Extension of Santa Catarina – EPAGRI; Extension Group "Community Farms" – Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Network Oriented Toward the Development of Agroecology - RODA-UFRGS, "A vision with Ideal Ecological Agriculture" (UVAIA) - UFRGS, Aecia Cooperative of Ecological Farmers and the Ecological Centre for Agricultural Ecology Consultancy and Education Centre - Ipê and North Coast;

Planned visits of consumers to the properties with the support of the Agroecological Association Fair of Ecological Farmers of Porto Alegre (FAE), providing residents of urban centres direct contact with the rural environment. During the visits the public participates in the planting and harvesting of fresh food;

Development of studies on the nutritional and therapeutic potential of Unconventional Food Plants (UCFP) and by-products, in partnership with the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) and the Technical Chamber of Agroecology - SDR;

Promotion of UCFP and the regional culture through websites, social media, lectures, congresses, courses and workshops with the support of the Postgraduate Programme in Rural Development (PGDR)-UFRGS, Institute of Environmental Studies of Rio Grande do Sul (Ingá) - UFRGS, Technical Chamber of Agroecology - SDR and Secretariat of Rural Development, Fisheries and Cooperatives (SDR-RS). Encourage young people to join in the project and provide new generations with a perspective for the future where they can ensure their livelihood;

Development of sophisticated recipes in partnership with the Work Group of Regional Cuisine of Rio Grande do Sul and chefs, who present the gastronomic potential of these fruits.

 

4 - RESULTS

  • Estimated current production (2014) of approximately 2500 litres of registered beverages and 800 litres of beverages pending registration;
  • A total of 50 families that directly benefit from this practice;
  • Income diversification in family farms, and up to 10% increase in income with the use of fruits available on the property;
  • Encouraging the appreciation of native flora and domestic orchards in rural properties to increase the family income, and motivating them to protect the forests and plant new seedlings to ensure the maintenance of local species;
  • Increased organic certification of domestic orchards in family farms;
  • Implementation of an Agroforestry System (AFS) in the partner properties;
  • Sale of products derived from UCFP with participation in the domestic and international markets;
  • Participation in fairs through the Cooperativa Aecia de Agricultores Ecologistas Ltda and the Agroecological Association Fair of Ecological Farmers of Porto Alegre (FAE);
  • High consumer satisfaction with the native fruit and its by-products.

 

5 - NECESSARY RESOURCES

For the industrialized production of unconventional food plants, it is necessary to implement a small agribusiness according to the current laws of each location.

Basic equipment: pulper, cooking bin, steam juicer, oven or stove.

- Family labour for processing of the products (4 persons);

- 1 Technical manager;

- Administrative services (bookkeeping).

The institutions that provided the support to ensure the financial viability of the project include Banco do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul S.A. - Banrisul, Ministry of Rural Development, Fisheries and Cooperatives of Rio Grande do Sul (SDR-RS) and Municipal Council of Antônio Prado.

 

6 - TRANSFER

The adopted production process is often presented in events in the form of lectures, courses and tastings.  Highlights include a course for tobacco producers, in the Municipality of Anchieta, promoted by Corporation of Agricultural and Livestock Research and Rural Extension of Santa Catarina – EPAGRI, and a lecture at MERCOSUL Gathering of Native Fruit and Small Fruit, promoted by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - EMBRAPA in the Municipality of Pelotas.

Visits are also available and coordinated by EPAGRI, EMBRAPA, the Association of Enterprises of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension of Rio Grande do Sul and the Southern Association of Credit and Rural Assistance – EMATER/ASCAR, municipal farmer unions, Agronomy and Biology courses of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and the Centre of Popular Alternative Technologies (CETAP), in order to understand and replicate this practice. 

 

7 - LESSONS LEARNED

The development of a production process that is based on organic products allows the natural incorporation of a set of procedures that constitutes sustainable practices. A closer contact with nature through the use of natural products was also stimulated in the local community.

In the beginning, the population seemed unfamiliar with the products. However, after introducing samples of the natural juices and fruits, with the help of representative entities, the sale of these products increased significantly, especially in urban centres such as Porto Alegre.

Introducing a new culture to farmers, which somehow saw the use of native products as a setback in the production chain, was a huge difficulty. However, in time, given the financial return, they were eager to preserve native tree species and harvest the fruit.

Compliance with the current laws is another obstacle. There is a huge difficulty in including native fruit in the law of organic production, since most of the trees are isolated and located in properties that use the conventional cultivation system. In addition, there are only a few legal provisions that regulate organic production in family farms, especially in the case of alternative products and sustainable extractivism. Regulators must therefore provide guidance in relation to the applicable laws. Political articulations to develop legal instruments that include this type of production process are also required.

 

Scheduled visits are available all year round.

Number of visitors:  Up to 30 people.

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