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Rural Development Program
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The Brazilian bank of the Itaipu plant reservoir constitutes one of the main agricultural poles of the Paraná State. Therefore, in addition to a series of actions aimed at protecting springs and water courses, the Brazilian-Paraguayan binational also works with the promotion of sustainability in agricultural activities through the Sustainable Rural Development program.
In this region, in Brazil, there are about 35 thousand rural properties, most of which are family owned, are less than 50 hectares and work in cooperative systems. Another characteristic is the predominance of maize and soybean crops, integrated into dairy, swine and poultry farming.
These are activities of high environmental impact, mainly by the production of waste and intensive use of pesticides. Hence the need to work, as well as the solution of collective liabilities in the hydrographic basins, with the adoption of production techniques that make feasible the economic, environmental and social sustainability of rural properties, the program’s main objective.
The management is shared with the beneficiary communities and with the partner institutions, which include city halls, organs of three government spheres, cooperatives and rural producers associations, universities and reference centers.
In practice, the program develops free technical assistance and rural extension actions for family farmers, promoting the conversion of their properties to certified organic agriculture, and encourages the adoption of agroecological practices for those who wish to produce sustainably, such as no-tillage and crop diversification.  It also works with the aggregation of value and income, with the assistance to 124 existing family agroindustries and in the implantation of new ones, as well as in the opening of trading channels.
The program also supports the research, development and teaching of family and organic agriculture, meeting the region’s demands. This line of action is made possible through agreements with the State University of the West of Paraná (Unioeste) for the training of professors, researchers and students, and through participation in the Paranaense Network of Agroecology Research.
The initiative also supports technological innovation, such as the use of homeopathy in agriculture, courses, seminars and publications. Currently Itaipu has an agreement with the Agronomic Institute of Paraná – Iapar to promote the transfer of technology to technicians and farmers in fruit growing and dairy cattle activities.
Another line of action is the strengthening of the process of certification and commercialization of organic products and family farming, which takes place through associativism and cooperativism. It is carried out by advising cooperatives in the management and support of participation in national and international events for technical training and product dissemination.
The Sustainable Rural Development program also promotes the dissemination of the benefits of organic production to the population, seeking the creation of social, environmental and commercial direct links, from rural to urban. This is done through lectures in schools and the promotion and participation and events with booths, promotional materials and the sale of organic products from family agriculture.
In addition, it works to promote the awareness and technical qualification of nutrition and health professionals and others involved in the production and use of herbal and phytotherapeutic plants, stimulates the trading of Family Agriculture products through institutional programs, mainly through the National School Feeding Program – PNAE and the National Food Acquisition Program – PAA.
The project also has an active Steering Committee, which meets every 60 days. The committee is composed of representative organizations from the civil society, farmers and government sectors, and allows the active participation of its peers. In the meetings, the guidelines and actions are built, guaranteeing legitimacy to the results achieved.
Having started with 188 beneficiaries, the initiative now serves 1,500 families, 700 of which are family-owned businesses, 500 are agrarian reform and land credit settlers, 270 are indigenous and 120 are beekeepers. There was also an expansion in the area of activity. Initially there were 13 municipalities, moving to the current 29. The ATER network currently has 38 technicians involved.
Finally, all the program actions are connected in their entirety to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (ODS) and the National Plan for Food and Nutrition Security, as well as other specific public policies.
The management is shared with the beneficiary communities and with the partner institutions, which include city halls, organs of three government spheres, cooperatives and rural producers associations, universities and reference centers.
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