Castanhal and FairTSA

Community Development

2016 - 2020

   Producers are at the heart of FairTSA Fair Trade certification. Together through community development projects and capacity building we are helping to directly impact the agricultural communities that grow and process our food. 

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   Castanhal Companhia Têxtil is a FairTSA certified producer of Jute fiber based in the northern state of Pará, Brazil. They are the country’s largest producer of the fiber, which is used primarily in bags storing coffee, peanuts, cocoa, and potatoes.  To support the rural communities who cultivate jute on the banks of the Amazon river, Castanhal sponsors seed projects and organizes agricultural education programs on the cultivation of organic, high quality jute fiber. With the improved financial stability brought on by these programs, producers for Castanhal are able to keep away from environmentally harmful income sources such as illegal mining and slash and burn agriculture. 

2019-2020: Schooling, Medical aid, Food distribution and Holiday Celebrations 

   The past few years have had similar goals. BioTropic been organizing around its community’s needs, running similar projects to support their farmers. For 2020 and 2019 the activities included Easter and Christmas celebration meals with food and sweets distributed. Deliveries of school supplies to the worker’s children was also carried out for the new school year. There are delivery of medicine prescriptions to people who had health complications during 2019, as well as personal loans made available to workers without any interest. Official worker cards are organized and provided for the foreign workers. Finally there is an annual celebration day for the of the workers with a trip to the beach. 

The Golden Fiber

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   Jute is a fiber extracted from the bark of the White Jute Plant (Corchorus Capsularis), a rain-fed crop commonly grown in lowland areas. Dubbed "The Golden Fiber," its long stems produce a durable material ideal for use in burlap sacks and other textiles. In Brazil, Jute is produced primarily by rural, river-dwelling communities who plant the crop off the banks of the Amazon during the dry season. The flooding of the river during the subsequent season accumulates organic matter on the riverbank which feeds the jute and fertilizes the soil for the following year. Jute cultivation is of immense importance to these remote communities as it provides a steady, environmentally sustainable source of income that does not interfere with local subsistence agriculture and fishing operations. 

   Though 2019, Community Development for Castanhal has focused primarily on the sustenance of Jute agriculture which constitutes one of the main income sources for some 50,000 families living in the rural states of Pará and Amazonas.  To support these producers, Castanhal and associated non profit “IFIBRAM” have focused primarily on seed distribution and agricultural instruction. Being able to produce a light, high quality fiber is crucial for producers because it increases the competitiveness of Jute sacks in comparison to synthetic bags and other non-organic alternatives. Seed selection to increase germination success and quality greatly improves the jute the farmers will grow in the future. 

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2016: Seed Project

   For their initial community development project, 65 jute producing-families received assistance planting, cultivating, and processing 40 tons of high quality jute seed over a two year period. They were also given assistance in the mechanical preparation of 50 hectares planting area, as well as instruction in optimal seed cropping and processing techniques. In addition to the jute cultivated during this venture, the 40 tons of high quality seed will allow for the future production of competitive fiber. In increasing yield quantity, efficiency, and fiber-quality, producers can ensure a livable existence. 

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2017: Faviero Project 

  To educate on the benefits of jute cultivation, 50 fiber producers in the “Faveiro” community of Viseu, Brasil, were given a grant of $600 per hectare of land to study and begin jute cultivation. In addition to regular trainings in the production of high quality fiber, these farmers were guaranteed a price for their jute well above market value. This project attempted to not only educate on environmentally friendly and sustainable income sources, but also help farmers already interested in Jute avoid exploitative loan and financing arrangements. 

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2018: Mechanization- Tractors and Tilling 

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   After conversations and meetings with 2017 participants producers decided it would be most beneficial to mechanize field preparation through the implementation of tractors and tilling equipment. Instruction and training in equipment usage was also included in this project which greatly economizes the previously laborious process of field preparation. 

2019: Cultivating seeds and Fiber 

   The mail goal for this year was to continue cultivation of seeds and fibers of high yield and good commercial attributes, increasing the efficiency of the planting and growing operation, as well as fiber production and income. Castanhal sees the possibility to reactivate the jute fiber plantations in some areas in Alenquer region, so they went out into the field and held several meetings in various communities there, explaining to the producers the objective of the project. The jute project in Alequer joined Castanhal’s efforts, which is a great victory for Castanhal and the economy of the region. Together they started a larger cooperative collaboration of growing, collecting, registering and distributing more seeds with excellent germination that will produce superb jute. 

2020: Supporting the Marajó Archipelago 

   For 2020 Castanhal is joining the program “Abrace o Marajó”, recently launched by the Federal Government of Brasil. Generated by the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights (MMFDH), the new initiative aims to improve the Human Development Index (HDI) in the region by expanding the support and access of the Marajo population has to human rights.  

 

   “The program ABRACE O MARAJÓ aims to promote the actions of civil society and the private sector in the municipalities that make up the Archipelago of Marajó and to cooperate in reducing the rates of violation of the rights of the family, women, children… the elderly, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and traditional communities…The other goals are to contribute to the strengthening of intergenerational family bonds and contribute to the sustainability of public policies and programs implemented in the municipalities that make up the Marajó Archipelago1.” 

   This archipelago is home to about 500thousand people and includes the municipality with the worst HDI in Brazil: Melgaço. Besides this, seven others of the 16 municipalities that make up the region are on the list of the 50 worst HDI in the country, with large issues of violence against women, children, and elderly. Castanhal is looking forward to joining its mission and Fair Trade activity with this larger directive to help bring further peace and stability to their country through supporting their cooperative jute community. As the jute production grows, so will the Community Development Projects and Fair Trade Premium they receive.