Expedition to Middle Earth Ecological Station promotes actions for better quality of life for riverside families

Posted in: 02/27/2023

Throughout 2022, Synergia carried out some expeditions to the Middle Earth Ecological Station , in partnership with the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) , the managing body of the conservation unit. The initiative is part of the Redes do Médio Xingu project – Synergia’s first socio environmental responsibility action, which aims to collaborate with socio-biodiversity projects in the Amazon . Supported projects have a direct impact on forest conservation and better living conditions for the local population.

Synergia conducts an expedition to the Terra do Meio Ecological Station - riverside community
Synergia’s first socio-environmental responsibility action aims to collaborate with socio-biodiversity projects in communities in the Amazon. Photo: Synergia

Among its main actions are the strengthening of local communities in the trade of extractive products , in partnership with the Instituto Socioambiental ISA, support for the Agroextrativist Association Sementes da Floresta (ASSFLOR) – strengthening the commercialization of products based on vegetable oils extracted by the communities in mini processing plants – and with support for improving the living conditions of the riverside population of ESEC Middle Earth, through support for the cocoa production chain and the structure of the community canteen.

“Our objective is to improve the quality of life of riverside families in Middle Earth. And we do this through two main activities: support to the cocoa production chain, with 10 producing families, and the implementation of the community canteen”, reinforces Mario Braga , leader of the Center for Synergia Studies .

Three first rounds of visits generate a positive impact on the population of the Terra do Meio Ecological Station

The first round of visits, in May 2022, had the objective of discussing with the families the possibilities for Synergia’s action to build a work plan that adheres to local demands and realities. An opportunity to understand with families and with ICMBio where and how Synergia could contribute.

During this period, more than 10 families were visited, which reinforced the demand for the community canteen – considering that the closest canteen is located in the Xipaya indigenous land , which makes access difficult. In addition, ESEC Terra do Meio families cannot find all the products they need on site. The second demand presented by the families was related to cocoa planting , which was done without assistance and/or knowledge.

Synergia conducts an expedition to the Terra do Meio Ecological Station - Synergia team on a boat trip
To support ESEC Terra do Meio, the Synergia team travels 3 days by boat, departing from Altamira to Middle Earth. Photo: Synergia

To help AASFLOR, the first visit had the objective of getting to know the association better and the work carried out. It was followed by another visit, accompanied by the board of directors of AASFLOR, to present a proposal for support.

With the information needed to move forward with the Redes do Médio Xingu project , the second round of visits, in June and July, began with technical assistance focused on cocoa planting, with producer families that signed the ICMBio terms of commitment . During this period, assistance was based on training and driving pruning, strengthening relationships with local families .

As agreed during the first visits, carried out in May, an agronomist was brought in to guide the families in the cocoa production chain , which was seen as a positive point by the local population. In addition, the families could count on a professional responsible for sales and operation of the Middle Earth Network processes and a graphic designer for the creation of the communication material used in the canteen workers’ meeting .

Shortly before the round of technical assistance, Synergia visited, in September, three communities with members of AASFLOR , Deus dos Pobres , Santa Fé and São José , all in Uruará . The objective was to understand the local action.

Based on this, it was defined that the focus of support would be on improving the presentation of products developed at AASFLOR and prospecting for sales opportunities. For this, branding and revision of labels and packaging of 10 products were carried out, promoting standardization, improving design and adding value to products.

Synergia conducts an expedition to the Terra do Meio Ecological Station - a team working on a project in the community
Conversations with the communities were important in deciding the focus of the work. Photo: Synergia

In the 3rd stage of the expedition , carried out in November and December, assessments and guidance were made on pruning and cleaning the fields. As a highlight, the local population pointed out the need for shading in the fields , so Synergia committed itself, for the next stage of the expedition, to take Andiroba, Copaíba and Cumarú seeds – trees capable of producing shade and also generating economic value . At that moment, the 10 ESEC families were included in the Terra do Meio Network with technical assistance from Synergia.

The work being carried out in the cocoa production chain helps local families to generate income, after all, the main activity is collecting nuts , which takes place in February and March. The cocoa harvest, on the other hand, occurs in May and June, allowing for an amplitude in the production calendar and in the income of riverside families.

Understanding the importance of the cocoa production chain, Synergia coordinated, through the work of a consultant, technical assistance and support in the search for companies to buy cocoa from Middle Earth.

For the progress of the construction of the community canteen , the whole operation was defined, such as: the responsible canteen, what will be sold, how the operation will be carried out, working capital , among other details.

Synergia believes that, because AASFLOR already has a quality product with a strong component of sustainability in production , support in presentation and communication can generate a relevant impact on families’ income. And, as an initial result, the first label proposals have already been presented.

Check out the next steps of the expedition

The work carried out during the Expedition sought to include local perspectives in the knowledge building and decision-making processes for better management of Synergia’s strategy on the Amazon . After all, forests are the main allies to solve the climate crisis.

The future of the Amazon demands new relationships, innovations and interactions between public and private sectors and civil society. And from its space of participation and with clarity of its purposes and vision of the future, Synergia deepens its experience in supporting the structuring of regional productive chains in the Amazon, and in community empowerment for autonomous management of territories and projects .

Synergia conducts an expedition to the Terra do Meio Ecological Station - documentary recording
Production of the documentary about the expedition is already underway. Photo: Synergia

The Expedition to the Middle Earth Ecological Station will still have several visits throughout 2023 and among the next steps that will positively impact the cocoa production chain and the community canteen are:

  • Acquisition of the first stock of canteen products;
  • Construction of chestnut warehouse and canteen shed;
  • Marketing of the 2023 harvest;
  • Participation in chocolate fairs and events.

At AASFLOR, the next steps involve:

  • Consolidation of the label and packaging review process;
  • Production of communication materials, such as catalogues;
  • Participation in fairs and events.

In addition to all the expected evolution of support from ESEC Middle Earth and AASFLOR, a documentary is being produced by Synergia. The objective is to give visibility to the people and stories present in this first year of the expedition and, mainly, to reinforce the traditions, culture and sustainable impact of the work carried out.

Scheduled for May 2023 , the release of the documentary will be made for all the families of Esec Middle Earth and AASFLOR.

To find out more about upcoming actions and the launch of the documentary, follow our top news .

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