In the middle of training, CESE participates in exchange in a quilombola community in Mato Grosso (in Portuguese)

Exchange between communities always involves a very rich exchange of knowledge, but also the feeling of renewed resistance to carry on in the struggle. The visit by the group that participated in the training session “Sharing Knowledge through the Paths of the Cerrado” in the Ribeirão da Mutuca Quilombo in the Mata Cavalo Community in Nossa Senhora do Livramento (Mato Grosso state) was no different.

The activity took place between 28 and 30 November, and was run by CESE with support from the Ibirapitanga Institute. During the visit, participants listened to the history of the community’s struggle from its origins to the present day through their fight for the territory’s land titles. The group was also introduced to handicrafts and produce from the quilombo fields, particularly creole maize.  

Delaine Rocha, from the Movement of Artisanal Fishermen and Women (Movimento dos Pescadores e Pescadoras Artesanais: MPP), sees huge similarities between the struggles of the Mutuca Quilombo and those of her community. “We have a conflict against large ranch owners.  They take over land and we can no longer access the places they occupy. We can no longer go to the streams we used to go to.  Our way of life is fishing, but if we cross these limits even a little bit, they shoot at us.”

Today her community faces constant landslides, which have destroyed the fishermen and women’s homes.  They suspect that the arrival of the ranchers, with their large cattle herds, has altered the water flow in the region, replacing a stream with a salt water current.  According to Delaine, this has affected the soil composition and is one of the main causes of landslides.

Exchanging knowledge

Beyond exchanges, the programme also included a meeting and a project workshop. Indigenous people, quilombolas, vazanteiros/as, pasture grazers, fisherwomen, black women and young people participated in the training.  It took place over three days, exchanging knowledge and facts in the midst of debates about the impacts of racism and sexism in their territories, and in the Cerrado as a whole, on food systems, on the lives of women and so forth.

By linking group discussions with the experiences and stories heard at the quilombo, Idalice Rodrigues, from the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra: MST) in Mato Grosso, highlighted the impacts in the communities from climate change, revealing the severity of the effects of racism on production and agri-food systems in the fields, and the change to the cycles of water and seeds.

“We plant through intercropping. In the middle of the rice, there’s a row of maize, another of okra, underneath some maxixe, pumpkin, watermelon. In between, there are plants that are natural insect repellents, such as sesame.  And we use natural pesticides, based on castor bean leaves, cow urine and faeces, fermented in a drum. It’s excellent for repelling insects.  So we don’t need pesticides.”

The training took place in the Olga Benário Prestes Research and Training Centre, in the Dorcelina Folador Settlement in Várzea Grande.