In the moonlight of the backwoods the dream of an abundant harvest was fulfilled. The last major drought in the State of Paraíba lasted six years, but this time the drought did not prevent the colored cotton from germinating in the arid soil of the city of São Bento. For the farmer Mr. Flaviano Alves, who was struggling due to lack of water and lack of funding, the project to expand the Paraiba Colored Cotton plantation emerged, in his words, “as a light at the end of the tunnel.” He received the seeds for free and reaped this month a crop of about 1200 kilos. Now it plans to double production. The motivation comes from the practice of guaranteed purchase contract with immediate payment on delivery – which gives farmers credibility and enthusiasm.
Since the beginning of the year, the textile company Santa Luzia Hammocks and Decoration has been spreading seeds in the region. The crop expansion project includes 40 families working in a family farming system in settlements, associations and the quilombola community. In all, 20 hectares were planted. The total harvest of about 24 tons of colored cotton will be transformed into yarns, fabrics, utilities and decoration accessories sold to the national and international markets.
Mr. Armando Dantas, CEO of the company, already has successful experience with planting and harvesting colored cotton. Since 2012 he has been working on this system with the Margarida Maria Alves Settlement farmers in Juarez Távora, also in the semiarid, on an area of 18 hectares. “Expanding production ensures service to the sustainable decoration market, but it is also a dream come true. It is about rescuing the family farming culture and cotton cultivation that made history in our state,” he says.
The project called “Santa Luzia of Colored Cotton” includes new 20 hectares: Quilombola Community of Newfoundland, Genipapo Community of Lucios, among other various associations. The planting started in late February culminated in the Field Day on June 28, with the land full of cotton feathers. The event brought together public and private institutions attracted the attention of other farmers interested in cultivating the plant that the company transforms into decorative hammocks and accessories for the national and international market.
Institutional support helps to move the supply chain.
The Field Day is a special day to multiply knowledge by sharing narratives and processes. The Santa Luzia Hammocks and Decoration, for example, before implementing the project, sought support to create favorable conditions in the face of a vulnerable climate environment. From the municipal administration of São Bento and Brejo da Cruz came tractors to cut the sturdy ground. “It is important to enforce the redemption of a historic São Bento brand, which is Paraíba’s colored cotton,” confirmed the Landlord Mr. Jarques Lúcio.
The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), developer of the seeds, contributed with knowledge. “Colored cotton is a drought-resistant plant and can be grown with little water – as long as this little water is given to the crop at the right time,” explains agronomist Mr. Gilvan Ramos of Embrapa Cotton. Since none of the areas have irrigation, it needs to be planted before the rainy season, even though it is scarce in the region.
Support from the State Government was received through agricultural technicians from the Paraibana Company for Research, Rural Extension and Land Regularization (Empaer). The institution has the function of technology transfer, enabling the property to have profit and income. “Empaer has the role of organizing the organic production system, providing family farmers with low-cost agroecological management techniques that improve productivity and ensure food security,” said Mr. Jefferson Ferreira, director of technical assistance and rural extension at Empaer.
For 58-year-old farmer Mr. Paulo de Lima, who in the past saw his experience with rice and banana plantations evaporate along with the water from the Piranhas River, a tributary of the city, there is now a new perspective. “Before it was all disorganized. We harvested and had no buyer, only a middleman.” In the countryside, the figure of the trader is not well regarded because, despite bridging the farmer with the means of distribution and marketing, he often does not pay the farmer fairly.
The Santa Luzia Hammocks and Decoration already plans to double the area planted in 2020. And also continue to plead with the public agencies for support for farmers to acquire a ginner. “Cotton seeds serve as the basis for the ration of dairy cows and fattening oxen. This is a great market. Buyers travel 1700 km to buy lumps in Bahia. As we are only 70 kilometers away, we are missing out on new business opportunities.” The businessman, who works in the company the concept of sustainability, knows that agricultural activities in this region have indicators of fragility. “The project has the potential to ensure economic, social and environmental sustainability. But you can’t do it alone. We need to ensure partnerships that provide conditions for farmers to operate, it is an interdependent relationship where together we are strong,” he explains.
About the company
The Santa Luzia Hammocks and Decoration textile industry has been working since 1986 in the creation and development of decorative products based on sustainability and innovation – preserving local cultural characteristics based on craft work.
Mr. Armando Dantas, who began his career as artisan producing and selling door-to-door hammocks, today exports products made from eco-friendly yarns to Europe, North America and Africa.
In 2018, the executive received his work awarded the “Recognition of Southern Cone Handicraft Excellence” awarded by the World Crafts Council – WCC with recommendation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO.
Contact for interview:
Armando Dantas – email@example.com
+55 83 99961 0435 (WhatsApp) or 83 3444 2273 (Textile Factory Office)
Sandra Vasconcelos – firstname.lastname@example.org
+55 83 99824 6666 (WhatsApp)