Samuel Simões Neto and Lucas Moreno
Translated by Felipe Sá
Among thousands of extracts the Amazon offers us on a daily basis, the Copaíba oil is, undoubtedly, a highlight. Besides its anti-inflammatory and bactericidal properties, its essence is known for treating respiratory diseases, skin and stress problems; there is evidence that it can also prevent some types of cancer.
With all that market potential, there are still some communities that don’t manage to make a living out of selling the product. This happens due to a lack of continued technical assistance, not only in the production and processing stages, but also in the distribution, dissemination and marketing stages of the production chain.
The Agricultural-Extractive Settlement Project Aripuanã Guariba, located in the municipalities of Apuí and Novo Aripuanã, is an example of this reality. Families that work with the oil extraction still depend on a middleman to access consumer markets and face a reduced profit margin considering the necessary effort.
“Ever since I was little, my brothers and I followed our father in the extraction of the Copaíba oil. Sometimes, this means spending over a month in the forest searching for the product”, explains Jessé de Souza da Silva, 18-year-old resident of the Vila Batista community.
In order to stimulate and promote improvements in the Copaíba oil value chain for the settlement families, Idesam designed an action proposal, submitted to the Standing Forest Call for Proposals launched by FAS, the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation. The proposal was one of the 17 selected and will receive a support of R$ 150.000,00 for its development.
The financial support – made possible with resources from the Amazon Fund – was formalized in February 20th, at an event held at FAS, in Manaus. Representatives of BNDES, FAS and supported projects were present, among them Marina Yasbek, Idesam’s researcher, and the young extractivist Jessé de Souza.
“Besides our support to the commercialization, our proposal is to encourage social organization between the engaged small producers, stimulating cooperativism, and boosting the results of production”, comments the researcher.
According to Ramom Morato – coordinator of Idesam’s Sustainable Rural Production Program – the Copaíba oil has great market potential and, despite Brazil’s economic crisis, it has shown positive and growing results.
“With the support, we will boost the development of the Copaíba production chain, improving the quality of life of the settlement extractors, and avoiding the action of deed-falsifiers (‘grileiros’) in the region”, explains.
Another advantage for the viability of the project is the experience that the residents already have in the oil extraction. Agricultural-Extractive Settlement Project Aripuanã Guariba is inhabited by families who arrived in the 60’s for rubber extraction. Today, these families still obtain income through forest products, mainly Copaíba and chestnut oil.
A diagnosis made by Idesam in 2014 found that PAE communities already produce 2.000 liters of oil per year.
“Creating a way to commercialize the Copaíba oil that we ourselves extract will result in a much better return to our families”, Jessé comments.