New project aims to create organic food hub for Rio with better water management

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Wand_Prapan
© Getty Images / Wand_Prapan
A new project from the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming is aiming to create a huge organic food production hub around Rio de Janeiro by enabling smallholder farmers to adopt a 100% chemical-free agriculture.

The Livelihoods-Caruanas project focuses on farmers in Tinguá, a key water catchment 60 km upstream from Rio de Janeiro, and is supported by Sebrae (the Brazilian SMEs development agency) and Bonafont, a Danone brand which operates a mineral water factory in the region.

While Tinguá used to be a prosperous sugar cane growing area, many farmers today struggle to survive due to inefficient practices and access to markets, according to the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, an impact investment fund created by Danone, Mars, Veolia and Firmenich​.

Addressing water conservation and poverty

“The Livelihoods-Caruanas project will foster the transition of the vast majority of farms located around Bonafont’s factory to organic farming for the long-term preservation of water resources,” ​according to a blog post on the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming website. “The strength of this program lies in its ability to turn farmers with little technical know-how into professional organic farmers through a 30-month training program and efficient equipment. The project aims at empowering around 250 farmers.”

“After one year of training, farmers will be issued an organic farming certification from a Brazilian national agency. Together, the 250 family farms of Tinguá will become the largest organic food production hub supplying Rio’s growing market for healthy food,” ​added the organization.

Key aspects of the project include:
 - A pilot project will test the model, and will involve 15 farmers around Tinguá.
- Farmers will also receive training courses on farm management, accounting and sales.
- Higher prices for organic products and more efficient farming practices are expected to increase farmer revenues by about 60%.
- ​Bonafont will make a financial contribution to the fund according to the number of area under conservation. This will ensure that the project has tangible results.

The project also strengthens Bonafont’s social impact for people living around its factory in Tinguá as they will be the first beneficiaries,” ​stated the blog post. “The model of the Livelihoods-Caruanas project can be deployed in other Brazilian cities or other countries to contribute to the long-term conservation of water resources of our planet.”

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