80 women trained to improve quality of products made from babassu coconut

Through CESE’s 2022 Funding Stream for “Peoples of the Cerrado confronting climate change”, the Interstate Movement of Babassu Coconut Breakers worked to strengthen women’s production

In December 2022, the Piauí regional branch of the Interstate Movement of Babassu Coconut Breakers (Interestadual de Mulheres Quebradeiras de Coco do Babaçu: MIQCB) trained 80 women to improve the quality of the products they derive from the babassu coconut.  These and other activities formed the project “Production Strength and the Defence of the Traditional Territories of Babassu Coconut Breakers” which ran until April 2023.  The initiative received support from CESE through its funding stream “Peoples of theCerrado confronting climate change”, which received applications in July and August last year.

The project’s aim was to strengthen the quality of female coconut breaker production through training to improve the production of babassu oil and the babassu mesocarp, as well as to value babassu products.

At the time, as well as more technical training, the women discussed topics related to the Cerrado, and exchanged experiences with organizations that collaborated through lectures, for example in Social Cartography, such as the Federal University of Piauí (Universidade Federal do Piauí: UFPI), the Federal Public Defender’s Office (Defensoria Pública da União: DPU), the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra: MST) and the Piauí Farmers’ Movement (Movimento dos Agricultores do Piauí).

The project also aimed to boost sales at family farming markets in the municipality of Esperantina (Piauí) and in the southern region of the state, where it is possible to bring together market traders and products that present technical developments in how to use the babassu coconut’s mesocarp.  According to Marinalda Rodrigues da Silva, Regional Coordinator of MIQCB- Piauí, “presenting these other products made from the babassu coconut’s mesocarp is important for teaching the coconut breakers that there are other products that could be created.”

“Our aim is for the women to understand more about this production, but also for them to find out about what is happening within the communities around them and what the challenges are for their territories,” she explained.  The meetings and discussions enabled the women to exchange life experiences and obtain more knowledge to defend and demand laws of protection for their territories.  It is estimated that the fairs will reach an average of 20 female market traders in every municipality.  One planned future activity is a seminar about environmental impacts and environmental defence projects.

The MIQCB – the Interstate Movement of Babassu Coconut Breakers (Interestadual de Mulheres Quebradeiras de Coco do Babaçu: MIQCB) in Maranhão, Pará, Piauí and Tocantins, is an organization that represents the social, political and economic interests of these women and aims to achieve visibility and recognition for them.  The institution is focused on enabling babassu coconut breakers to develop through the knowledge and experience the movement provides, as well as to acquire a broader vision of the world, beyond their communities.  Their struggle is for the right to land and to the babassu, and for rural women’s quality of life.

Grant funding for the Peoples of the Cerrado – Marinalda noted that the partnership between MIQCB – Piauí and CESE is increasingly close, through support from grants that support small projects. For her, “the partnership with CESE has enabled the MIQCB to progress its activities in the territories, particularly in this case with female market traders.  It’s a partnership that has been important and that could be further developed,” she noted.

CESE has run a series of joint training activities to strengthen and support projects for non-governmental organizations and movements who work in the defence of the Brazilian Cerrado, paying particular attention to the traditional peoples and communities who, over many generations, have sought to live in harmony with the environment and who function as guardians of the waters and the socio-biodiversity of their territories.  The funding stream for “Peoples of the Cerrado confronting climate change”, invited indigenous peoples, traditional communities, extractivists, riverside dwellers, peasant workers, quilombolas, women, young people and others to apply for funding for projects focused on the defence of territorial rights and to strengthen their food systems.

CESE is aware that traditional peoples and communities suffer the pressures of agribusiness and large economic projects, which impact on the maintenance of their ways of life, because they live in harmony with the environment, and which accentuate social crises, such as the withdrawal of these populations’ food sovereignty, the depletion of their natural resources and direct threats to their lives.  As a result of this extremely unfavourable set of circumstances, CESE decided to encourage initiatives from these peoples, movements and organizations, aimed at the defence of their territorial rights and to strengthen their food systems by opening up this funding stream.