Slow Food and IFAD take the lead: Indigenous crops bring climate solutions for farmers in Brazil’s Caatinga
Against this background of water shortages across the Caatinga, IFAD has focused on reducing rural poverty through income generation, increased production, better nutrition, and the creation of agricultural and non-agricultural employment opportunities.
Part of that work is to develop the production of indigenous crops, such as umbu and licuri, which cope better with the dry conditions. IFAD is working with its local partner the Government of Bahia (which implements the Pro-Semiarido Project), Slow Flood Brazil, local farmers’ organizations and technical assistance providers.
In Testa Branca, in the municipality of Uaua, umbu fruit is grown and processed locally; and in the village of Raposa, in the municipality of Caldeirão Grande, investments in processing and education are helping the local community members increase their income from the licuri palms that grow here.
Revecca Tapie, Regional Coordinator for Slow Food in the northeast of Brazil, added that the drought has had a serious impact for the last seven years.
But things are changing. Previously licuri and umbu were not valued by farmers nor were they protected. Today you see farmers in Testa Branca in the municipality of Uaua protecting young plants and avoiding cutting down these trees as they give value to the land.
Today a processing facility build with support from IFAD in 2016 and run by the Cooperative (COoPERCUC) in the town of Uaua, turns umbu into juice, jams and pulp. But in the future it expects to produce a lot more.
Slow Food Brazil’s Revecca Tapie explained that back in 2003 umbu trees were at risk of extinction in the semiarid zone of Bahia so they decided to look at ways of promoting it commercially through the Slow Food network in Brazil.
IFAD and Slow Food have been working together since 2009 and more recently, in December 2017, IFAD Brazil also signed a cooperative agreement in the framework of the IFAD knowledge management programme, SEMEAR International, which is under implementation in Brazil.