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ANA Amazon project fosters innovative agroecological initiatives in municipalities in the Brazilian Amazon, with support from CESE

The installation and consolidation of at least 250 agroecological territories by 2024 –vegetable gardens, agroforestry systems, community orchards and schools – in two cities in Pará: Igarapé-Miri and Cametá. This is one of the targets in the Municipal Plans for Agro-ecology and Organic Production.  These documents grew out of action to mobilize support from the initiative ‘Agroecology in the Municipalities’ (Agroecologia nos Municípios: AnM).

The AnM is an initiative of the National Agroecology Coalition (Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia: ANA) which works to strengthen the agroecology agenda in Brazil through the promotion, support and systematization of work to fundraise and mobilize support at municipal level, aimed at creating and enhancing public policies, programmes and similar within this sphere.  The Igarapé-Miri and Cametá plans have been under construction since 2021, through joint action between civil society organizations, further education institutions and the public authorities.

In the states of the Brazilian Amazon, it is headed by ANA Amazon (ANA Amazonia) and several activities, including those that resulted in the construction of these plans, have been supported by CESE.  Cametá and Igarapé-Miri are two of the 11 cities that form the Baixo Tocantins region in Pará.  More than half the population in the region lives in rural areas, where family farming is one of the central pillars of their way of life.

As well as agroecological territories, the two city plans include the creation of financial and qualification mechanisms for producers, the freeing up of public spaces to hold regular fairs and promotion of the diversity of local production.  But these are only two results of the ANA Amazon initiative since mobilizing support began in cities in the Brazilian Amazon.  There have been many more.

The cities of Viana and Morros in Maranhão have also been scenes for the mobilization of agroecology in this initiative.  In the former, activities focused on supporting the mobilization and coordination of local actors around activities to construct the Law of Free Access to the Babassu, such as the Interstate Movement of Babassu Coconut Breakers (Movimento Interestadual das Quebradeiras de Coco Babaçu: MIQCB), the Cooperative of Babassu Coconut Breakers (Cooperativa de Quebradeiras de Coco Babaçu: CIMQCB), community associations and the Union Movement (Union of Rural Workers – Sindicato de Trabalhadores/as Rurais: STTR).

In Xapuri, in Acre, mobilization took place through the participative drafting of an Action Plan to strengthen the municipal fair, guaranteeing a prominent place for agroecological products, as well as spaces such as an area to value art, culture and environmental education.  Negotiations are also underway with the municipal authorities to develop a specific project with women.

This includes the implementation of Agroecological Booklets – a teaching instrument created by an NGO, the Zona da Mata Centre for Alternative Technology (Centro de Tecnologias Alternativas da Zona da Mata: CTA-ZM), which aims to promote the empowerment and economic autonomy of women through monitoring, skills training and diversification in agroecological production and for economic organization.

In Roraima, mobilization activities have been developed in the capital Boa Vista, where the Agroecology Coordination Group (Grupo Articulação em Agroecologia) was set up, which has demonstrated its potential to become a solid network.  This grew out of the Agroecology Fair held by producers from the Nova Amazonia Settlement Project (Projeto de Assentamento Nova Amazônia) and the Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises (Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio a Micro e Pequenas Empresas: SEBRAE).

Out of this fair other coalitions have been approached, resulting in activities in partnership with the Homeless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto: MTST) and the Federal University of Roraima (Universidade Federal de Roraima: UFRR) – including the organization of a Solidarity Kitchen (with the MTST) and the creation of a responsible consumer group (with the UFRR), which set up a loyalty contract with agroecology producers in order to purchase their produce.

 

Agroecology in the Municipalities

Agroecology in the Municipalities grew out of a 2020 activity, aimed at mobilizing support during the municipal elections. A national team, with consultors in all Brazil’s states, was dedicated to surveying innovative municipal policies that support agroecology and food and nutritional security. More than 700 initiatives were mapped around Brazil and a great deal of material was created, which is available on their website (in Portuguese).

The survey led to a Letter of Commitment containing proposals, which was presented to mayoral and city councillor candidates in the 2020 municipal elections. More than 100 thousand candidates signed the letter, of whom 172 were elected – 47 mayors and 125 councillors. In 2022, 154 candidates were elected as state and federal deputies, senators and governors – 14 in states within the Brazilian Amazon.

The ANA Amazon Project

This project, called “Strengthening ANA Amazon Activities during the Pandemic” grew out of a desire to unify the agendas of the struggles of social movements and organizations in the Brazilian Amazon through organizational strengthening.

By mobilizing political support in the municipalities and states, ANA Amazon sought to expand existing activities and encourage increased political organization for agroecology in the Amazon.  The results so far have arisen from dialogue between the movements, networks and coalitions fostered by ANA, and through mobilization with the municipalities.  And that is where CESE comes in.

“This support enabled us to come together and expand our discussions to other groups and movements.  We were able to send people to distant territories to make political connections and public acts. All this was very important,” noted Fábio Pacheco, member of the coordinating office of the Tijupá Agroecological Association, which is part of ANA Amazon’s Executive Secretariat.

Fábio noted that even CESE’s initial approach was positive. “We were invited, and we had a lot of freedom to propose activities that really strengthen networks. Generally, these come pre-set by funders.  This grant funding was very important.” As well as this, he also reported that there is an alleged “Amazon cost,” which discourages possible sources of financial support.

“For example, in this case, we needed to carry out mobilization activities.  Transport is very expensive here. There aren’t always resources for this.  There is that “Amazon cost,” which is a limitation. It depends on the time of year, on the owners of airline companies.  Because of this, we have given up doing mobilizations before now.

The project also hosted a Meeting of Representatives of the ANA Amazon Movements, which in April 2022 brought together 33 people, representatives of ANA Amazon and of the organizations in the Popular Amazon Uprising (Levante Popular da Amazônia).