For the first time, a smallholder group with 20 family farmers and a cooperative earned RSB certification in Brazil. The project in the Montes Claros region, Minas Gerais state of Brazil is a pioneer as the first RSB smallholder certification in Brazil, using RSB principles and criteria adapted to smallholders groups. The project was developed with support from RSB and the Boeing Corporate Citizenship program in partnership with Unidade de Beneficiamento de Coco Macaúba (UBCM) which is a small cooperative that processes macaúba fruits collected by local communities, with a local university Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), and with two family farmers associations. They participated in the RSB smallholder program which aims to improve the living conditions of small farmers and promote sustainable practices based on the RSB standard and seeking market for certified products.
Macaúba palm tree (Acrocomia aculeata) is a species of palm native to tropical areas in Brazil. It can be found in natural stands or in existing pasturelands (integrated to cattle rising or agriculture), and has a great potential as a sustainable source of plant oil for biofuels and biomaterials. Small farmers have an opportunity to collect macaúba fruit directly from stands where it grows naturally, and also allows for more intensive production in the form of managed, commercial plantations.
This project involves a group of around 100 families that traditionally collect fruits from the Cerrado (Brazilian savannah). The smallholders have organised themselves as a farmer cooperative, which operates the oil processing facility.
The project raised interest from both the Minas Gerais State and the Brazilian Federal Government, who supported the development of the macaúba value chain for biofuels and biomaterials. Use of macaúba oil as a feedstock for biojet fuel is of particular interest.
RSB is looking forward to sharing the lessons learned from the pilot project in Montes Claros region with smallholders working in other regions in Brazil where macaúba palm tree grows, and to demonstrate the social and environmental benefits for all actors involved in the value chain.
Watch videos about macaúba production, prepared by EMBRAPA. The first video below contains English subtitles, the others are in Portuguese.