The initiative aims to promote the development of the macaúba production chain, training family farmers and disseminating the potential of vegetable oil
Macaúba, a palm tree native to the Brazilian Cerrado, has great potential for sustainable vegetable oil extraction. With that in mind, INOCAS, a social business based in Patos de Minas (MG), decided to promote the sustainable extraction of fruits from native palm trees to leverage the production chain of organic macaúba. The initiative has the support of Sitawi and the Mahle Institute, and is structured around three pillars: training and mobilization of family farmers for the sustainable extraction of organic native macaúba; access to public policies that benefit producers; and organic certification of the native product. The impact generated is related to social inclusion, the appreciation of Brazilian biodiversity and the generation of work and income for family farmers.
The project ?Sustainable Extractivism of Organic Macaúba? its purpose is to promote the macaúba production chain as a source of sustainable vegetable oil, increasing the production of organic quality food, as well as generating inputs for cosmetics, chemicals and fuel, replacing transgenics and other exclusive and degrading crops. Its cultivation takes place through agroforestry, joint cultivation of agricultural crops, avoiding deforestation or changes in land use with the coexistence of agriculture and livestock in the same location.
A more sustainable alternative
Currently, palm oil is the most widely used in the world and is an input for thousands of products from foods such as margarine and ice cream to household cleaning products, hygiene and even fuel tanks. For this reason, palm oil is responsible for large-scale forest conversion in the tropics and for high carbon emission rates, contributing to global warming.
Integration of macaúba palm trees into existing pastures will result in CO sequestration² and, in the long term, could replace palm plantations established through deforestation around the world. In addition, the project will benefit seasonal workers as it will create jobs after the coffee season, when unemployment rates generally increase.
Innovation in planting
The main innovation of INOCAS is in its planting system and business model, as the cultivation of macaúba in agroforestry systems allows the production of large amounts of vegetable oil without negative impacts such as deforestation, change in land use or land grabbing. The integration of macaúba palm trees in existing pastures will result in the rescue of around one ton of CO² per plant, in the creation of a forest cover of 30% in the region, providing shade and reducing the thermal amplitude and in the reduction of water consumption by cattle due to to the increase of the shadow region.
Improved income and production balance
The project also generates benefits for workers. In Minas Gerais, more than 200,000 people work on coffee farms during the harvest season, which runs from May to September. After the coffee season, unemployment rates generally rise. Workers interviewed in the Leuphana University feasibility study earned, on average, R$ 73 per day, ie R$ 1,600 per month from harvesting native macaw palms. This means that, as the macaúba harvest takes place from October to January, that is, after the coffee harvest, it creates opportunities for additional income and better remuneration for workers.