Location: Capanema, Paraná, Brazil
Cooperation since: 1998
Number of employees: 35
Number of farmers: 300
Products: soy, soy oil, soy press cake, lecithin, cachaça, beans, corn, wheat
Certifications: Bio, Bio Suisse, FLO, GMP+
Pioneers of organic farming
In the municipality of Capanema in the south-west of Brazil, not far from the world-famous water falls of Iguaçu, the first small-scale farmers started to refrain from chemical pesticides and fertilisers already at the end of the 1980s. Reason for their decision were the damages through agricultural poisons which they observed: the fish stock in the rivers decreased and repeatedly, sometimes deadly accidents associated with the handling of chemicals happened.
Since 1998 gebana is in contact with small-scale farmers in Capanema and imported for the first time their organic soy in 2000. Two years later, gebana Brasil was founded together with local investors. The goal was to process soy and commercialise it directly. Thanks to modern facilities, gebana is today able to produce soy of the highest quality. The further processing of the soy beans of second quality into animal food, oil and lecithin is also carried out directly at the location. A storage at the harbour of Paranaguá allows to fill the goods directly in containers and to seal them, which allows a control until the shipment.
Growing domestic market
But not the entire production is exported: Brazil is a growing market for organic products. Today, gebana Brasil sells approximately 1/4 of its production - apart from soy also wheat, corn and beans - on the national market.
To date, around 300 farmer families produce with gebana. The cooperation takes place on the basis of multi-annual cultivation contracts. gebana advises the producers in biological cultivation methods, arranges certification processes and organises and finances seeds, organic fertilisers and remedies for pest control. In exchange, the farmers commit to deliver the harvest to gebana and to comply with the bio-guidelines.
Consulting and support
The agricultural technicians of gebana are constantly on the road and visit every farming family several times per year. During these visits, cultivation plans are made and production volumes are calculated, the needs of seed are set and the growth of the cultures controlled. Often, talks are not only about soy but also about other agricultural products as well as problems of everyday life such as bank loans, health-related difficulties or the education of the children.
The soy cultivation is the most important source of revenue for many farmers of the region. For the bio-soy beans gebana pays an additional charge of 35 to 50% of the usual market price. The additional value allows the small-scale farmers to live off the yields of their land and creates future perspectives in the rural areas. Still, emigration is a big problem for the local agriculture: the work of the farmers is seen as inferior and many young people move to the city and work as waiter or domestic worker.
Invest in the future
The rural depopulation is thus one of the biggest challenges of the future. gebana Brasil is strongly involved in research with the goal to make small-scale farming competitive and more attractive. A main emphasis is put on the mechanisation of the weed control. Until now, this is carried out manually which is extremely time-consuming and arduous. A second focus are products with a higher value creation as for example high-protein types, which are especially suitable for tofu, or processed products such as soy oil or soy lecithin.