For anyone who has seen City of God, the Rio de Janeiro favelas are distinctly urban and concrete, where space is dedicated first and foremost to living space. The women of Parque Genesiano da Luz in the city of Nova Iguaçu, however, have started their own urban farms and thriving business.
The urban gardens were started in 2007 by the national oil company Petrobras on land that covered its pipelines. The national funding meant it was easy for 50-some local families to tend to the vast, 1000 square meter gardens. When they were no longer supported, however, many families left because of the lack of resources and profits. But 22 families persevered and created a long-term business plan for their cooperative, called Univerde.
Because transportation in Brazil is costly and lengthy, food in favelas is often unhealthy and overpriced. The urban farmers can now sell organic and cheap food to neighbors and surrounding favelas, which promotes an overall healthiness and until prices change is a low-cost, low-effort source of income. To sustain this, the members are now lobbying for the right to sell food to the government’s school meals program. The women who spearhead Univerde are also self-sufficient: 30% of all output goes to feeding their families. The gardens also gained media attention when they hosted field trips for the international congress World Nutrition Rio 2012.
Nova Iguaçu is one of the Urban Agriculture Programme’s many projects. The UAP provides technical assistance to women who are interested in agroecology and family gardening. As of 2011, when it specifically expanded into peri-urban areas, its classes and resources have helped over 650 people create and sustain farms. These programs are especially important as urban migration continues to explode and over 81% of Brazilians live in cities.
Other than the economic benefits of these farms, they promote a sense of community and improve life quality. Aldeni Fausto, Univerde’s president, asserts: "my mind now is more at ease, and I have found an equilibrium".
Read the complete report (source):
Urban Farming Takes Root in Brazil’s Favelas
Published on Ipsnews.net by Fabiana Frayssinet - May 2, 2012