Cooperative helps women sell babassu for cosmetics and food

The effort of babassu coconut breakers in Maranhão to conquer the international market with a sustainable product of traditional origin has technical assistance from Central do Cerrado, a cooperative based in Brasília.

Central do Cerrado is a second-degree cooperative, that is, an association formed by other cooperatives and social organizations –24 in all, in nine states . It is headquartered in Brasília, with a branch in São Paulo and a box in the São Paulo Pine Market.

The sales center aims to provide scale, ensure standardization and increase the added value of products, coordinating producers spread across the second largest Brazilian biome (2 million km2). Taxes, freight, etc. paid, about 24% of the sales with the products returns to the member cooperatives.

One of its challenges, says coordinator Mayk Arruda, he went to organize the baru chain to satisfy the demand of an importer in the United States that needed to fill a 24 foot container (

m X 2.4 m X 2.6 m). In Brasília, the Central installed gondolas with 24 products from the cerrado in nine Carrefour stores.

Currently the Central, Coppalj and Assema support the creation of the Free Babaçu Consortium, with the objective of “promoting the sustainable use of babaçu forests, by expanding the supply of babassu coconut oil with identifiable, measurable socio-environmental origins that promote the conservation of biodiversity and fairness. and equitable distribution of economic gains”.

The project had 544 financing of US$ 98 thousand (BRL 98 thousand) from WWF Brasil and the Partnership Fund for Critical Ecosystems (CEPF), formed by the French Development Agency, by the NGO Conservation International, by the European Union, by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF), by the Government of Japan and by the World Bank.

The Central sees a market opportunity for babassu, considering the demand of the sectors in cosmetics and foods for a vegetable oil alternative to palm kernel (palm kernel), the target of social and environmental complaints in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

Furthermore, a gluten-free flour is extracted from the babassu mesocarp. to be used in bakery –for example, in a brownie recipe by Bela Gil and in a line of cake mixes for Mãe Terra brand signed by her. The same flour is already being used by the industry as vegetable talc, a substitute for non-renewable mineral resources.

The Babaçu Livre Consortium project had to be resized after R$ evaporated 15 million that had been approved in a notice of 544 by the Amazon Fund. The contract was about to be signed, but it was delayed due to a bureaucratic detail, and then came the Jair Bolsonaro government and the boycott of the fund by then-minister Ricardo Salles.

“There we no longer hear about it”, laments Mayk Arruda.

Journalists Lalo de Almeida and Marcelo Leite traveled at the invitation of the IEB (International Institute of Education of Brazil) and CEPF (Partnership Fund for Critical Ecosystems).

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