100% agroecological MST community conquers settlement in Castro, PR

The Maria Rosa do Contestado camp will be the first in Paraná to be regularized during President Lula's third term
Photo: Joka Madruga

From the MST Page 

A public area that was previously exploited by agribusiness illegally and using poison, will now be an Agrarian Reform settlement, with 100% agroecological certification. This is the achievement of the families of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) in the Maria Rosa do Contestado community, in the municipality of Castro, in the Campos Geral region of Paraná.

The area is made up of around 60 peasant families. Since August 2015, this will be the first agrarian reform settlement created in the state during the third Lula government.

The celebration party will be this Friday (12/15), at the community headquarters, starting at 10 AM, with a community lunch and free barbecue, a Women’s Collective product fair, an ecumenical space and a dance. The superintendent of the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA-PR), Nilton Bezerra Guedes, and the national president of the Workers’ Party (PT) and state deputy for Paraná, Gleisi Hoffmann will be present; in addition to state and regional authorities, members of universities and partner organizations.

Confirmation of the families’ settlement occurred at a judicial hearing, held on the 7th, coordinated by judge Antônio César Bochenek, from the 2nd Federal Court of Ponta Grossa. At this meeting, an agreement was signed between the Landless families, INCRA-PR, the Superintendence of the Union’s Heritage in Paraná (SPU), the Public Defender’s Office of the Union in Paraná (DPU), and the Training Center for Ranchers (CTP). The approval of the agreement took place this Monday (12/11), and ended the fight for the land, which had been going on for eight years.

The 450 hectare area was transferred to INCRA, which will grant 150 hectares to CTP and allocate the remainder to the settlement of Landless families. Also, as part of the agreement, 30% of the courses offered by the Center must be aimed at beneficiaries of Agrarian Reform.

Around 7 thousand families live in 82 MST camps in Paraná, and have been fighting for the implementation of agrarian reform for ten, 20 and even 30 years. So far, nine settlements have been created throughout Brazil, in this first year of the third Lula government.

History of transformation of the area

Before becoming a place for housing and healthy food production, the Union area, known as Fazenda Capão do Cipó, was used illegally by Fundação ABC, a private entity formed by agribusiness cooperatives and the Livestock Training Center (CTP), also coordinated by cooperatives. Since April 2014, there has been a request for repossession from the Union against the Foundation, with a daily fine of R$20,000. In addition to using the land irregularly, the Center degraded the soil through the use of pesticides.

In these five years, the community has already achieved many achievements. One of them is the 100% agroecological and organic certification that came in 2018, through Rede Ecovida. In 2016, the Cooperative of Rural Workers of Agrarian Reform Maria Rosa Contestado (Confran) was created, which strengthened production and commercialization in a cooperative manner, improving family income. The cooperative currently has 157 members, also including families from other MST communities in the region.

In 2021, almost 100% of encamped families have already achieved the Rural Producer Registration (CAD-Pro). With this registration, families living in areas not yet regularized had their agricultural activities recognized, giving them the right to formally sell the food they produce and pay taxes to the municipality. In the same year, the Women’s Collective organized in the community conquered the agribusiness of producing baked goods, homemade pasta and processing vegetables.

The products are sold in partnership with the Solidarity Enterprise Incubator (IESol) and the Agricultural Mechanization Laboratory of the State University of Ponta Grossa (Lama/UEPG), the Producer’s Market and Castro’s school meals, in addition to fairs. The initiative guarantees income generation and strengthens women’s participation and autonomy.

The community cooperative organizes the delivery of agroecological food for the municipal National School Food Program (PNAE) of 42 schools, in the municipality of Castro, state PNAE for 21 schools in the region. These are healthy foods from Agrarian Reform reaching children studying in public schools.

In addition to vegetables, tubers and fruits, the community also advances in grain production. Beans and rice already have a guaranteed market, part of which goes to export. In November this year, the community celebrated the first wheat harvest, on 10 hectares, with production of 20 tons. Next year, the estimate is to increase grain production. What’s new for this year is the delivery of food for the Direct Purchase program, to social entities in Castro and eight other municipalities in the region, with the delivery of 60 tons of beans next year.

In Maria Rosa do Contestado, nine peasant women are custodians of Creole seeds, and cultivate and preserve dozens of varieties. Additionally, during the Covid-19 pandemic, families in the community came together to share food with city residents facing hunger. There were dozens of tons of agroecological food donated, adding to the National Solidarity Campaign carried out by the MST in that period, which in Paraná exceeded 1,200 tons of food.

Check out a video celebrating the community’s 6th anniversary here:

In order to watch this video with English subtitles: click on the CC icon (closed caption), next click on the settings icon, click on the “Subtitles/CC (1), then  click on “Auto-translate” and scroll down to English.

*Edited by Solange Engelmann