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Mobilising support example:
Defense of the right to cultural identity

The mangaba harvest
Mangaba pickers
Mangaba products for sale
OrganisationAssociação das Catadoras de Mangaba de Indiaroba (Association of Mangaba Pickers of Indiaroba) (ASCAMAI)
Websitehttp://www.catadorasdemangaba.com.br, http://ascamai.com.br
CountryBrazil
TypeAssociation
TopicAccess to Government Funding

Summary

The Association of Mangaba Pickers of Indiaroba (ASCAMAI) in the state of Sergipe, organised a mobilisation activity with the public authorities, particularly from the state, in order to contribute to the drafting of specific public policies, such as securing policies to generate income and protect against unemployment; and activities to strengthen cultural identity and community organisation.

ASCAMAI is made up of traditional female extractivists of mangaba, the fruit of the mangaba tree (Hancornia speciosa Gomes), which is a symbolic species in the state of Sergipe. The mangaba tree is found in almost the whole of Brazil and may be used in the production of, for example, juice, cakes, biscuits, jellies, pulp and ice cream. In Sergipe, the natural mangaba areas are situated along the state’s coastline and guarantee subsistence for a number of communities.

Although the state of Sergipe recognises the mangaba pickers as a culturally differentiated group that should fall under the protection of Law 7082/10, they have been afflicted by several conflicts, including property speculation and tourism enterprises, monoculture (eucalyptus and sugarcane) and threats to life. This is reflected in verses from the mangaba pickers hymn: “Where are our mangabas? Man has surrounded them! The green of the forest, has been burned by fire! We look at each other in real agony, we’re going to ask the government for a great solution!”

As part of this activity, they defined their objective as the inclusion of the mangaba pickers to the Sergipe state government’s “Projeto Mão Amiga” (Friendly Hand Project), which involves measures to mitigate the effects of unemployment during the mangaba off-season, as occurs with workers of other crops. In order to attain this objective, ASCAMAI enacted a series of strategies and activities, including: the mobilisation of partners and stakeholders; preparatory meetings with female mangaba pickers; information surveys and preliminary subsidy studies regarding the situation of the mangaba pickers during the off-season and the quality of mangabas produced in the state; and training groups to establish dialogue with the public authorities.

As a result of the mangaba pickers’ actions, a member of parliament presented Recommendation no. 384/2019 in the Sergipe State Legislative Assembly to include the pickers in the “Projeto Mão Amiga” (Friendly Hand Project), proposing an alteration to Law 6697/2009. These activities also resulted in greater mobilisation of the female extractivists who constitute ASCAMAI and other mangaba communities in Sergipe, as well as enhanced abilities to monitor advocacy activities.

Problem analysis

There are many territorial problems and conflicts that affect the mangaba pickers’ extractivism, and that of other traditional peoples and communities. Property speculation, monoculture and the establishment of tourism enterprises, particularly in areas along the coast, have an impact on the natural areas of mangaba, as is the case in the state of Sergipe, in Brazil’s northeast. Landowners have imposed greater access restrictions on these areas and on the mangaba fruit itself, including threatening the extractivists’ lives, affecting their traditional forms of subsistence and their food security and sovereignty. Furthermore, the pickers have had difficulties in having their extractivist practices recognised as traditional.
The sustainability of mangaba production in Sergipe has also been compromised in recent years. The 2017 map produced by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation revealed a reduction of 10,456 ha (29.6%) in natural mangaba areas in the municipalities of Barra dos Coqueiros, Estância, Indiaroba, Itaporanga d'Ajuda, Japaratuba, Japoatã, Pacatuba, Pirambu and Santa Luzia do Itanhy between 2010 and 2016. Sergipe’s position as the largest mangaba producer in Brazil was taken over by Paraíba. The 'Overview of Plant Extractivism and Forestry' published by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics estimates that 436 tonnes of the product were extracted in 2007, which by 2016 had fallen to 190 tonnes.
According to other sources, however, this number may be underestimated. Researcher Debora Oliveira of the Federal University of Sergipe brought together date for 2019, indicating harvests of 100 to 220 kilos of mangaba per month.
This demonstrates that there is no in-depth diagnosis of the real mangaba production in the state of Sergipe, which includes information about the actors involved, the areas of commercialisation, and other important information that may influence public policies on this theme, directly impacting on the lives of the communities and the women extractivists.
Within this process, some factors have hindered problem-solving, such as a lack of political will from governments, diverging interests between the parties involved (governments, entrepreneurs, landowners and traditional communities); an absence of or inefficiency in the implementation of programmes and public policy. This has had an impact on the loss of cultural identity in the extractivist communities; increased social inequalities; and the destruction of the Atlantic rainforest and the Restinga biome for predatory activities.
Challenges persist, despite protective legislation, such as Sergipe state law no. 7082/2010, which recognises the mangaba pickers as a culturally differentiated group that should be protected in line with its own forms of social organisation, its territories and natural resources, alongside, at federal level, the National Policy for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Peoples and Communities (Decree 6040/2007).
This scenario is even more worrying given the recent environmental setbacks in Brazil, with the intense relaxation of environmental legislation and the worsening of conflicts involving traditional territories.

Solution analysis

To confront these problems a number of measures are required, such as policies for territorial demarcation and free access for Mangaba Pickers to the extractivist areas, including private ones; policies that incentivize the cultivation and protection of native mangaba trees; inter-institutional coordination activities; advocacy and intervention activities with the public authorities; policies for protection against unemployment; mangaba production chain incentive policies; the restoration of degraded areas; more in-depth research and studies about mangaba extractivism; collective education for the defence of rights and the strengthening of identity and community belonging.
The activities run by ASCAMAI are mainly aimed at advocacy to put pressure on the public authorities in order to secure policies for protection against unemployment during the mangaba off-season, particularly at the Sergipe State Legislative Assembly.

Stakeholder analysis

Which stakeholders (NGO’s, government, private sector) did you identify as allies and how did you involve them?
Allied stakeholders are in general social movements, civil society organisations and networks, from the grassroots movement, public sector bodies, with some groups involved in direct action, while others are potential allies of the cause, as we will see:
- Movimento das Catadoras de Mangaba (MCM) (the Movement of Mangaba Pickers) of Sergipe, Traditional Extractivist Communities of Sergipe, local Small-scale Producers, partner groups who collaborate in activities.
- Members of Parliament linked to and aware of causes related to mangaba production in the state and to protection of the Mangaba Pickers’ extractivist practices, mobilized to propose income generation policies and policies to mitigate against the effects of unemployment during the off-season.
- Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária / Embrapa Tabuleiros Costeiros (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation/Coastal Trays Agricultural Research Corporation) (Aracaju, Sergipe), which drafted the “Map of Mangaba Extractivism in Sergipe: the current situation and perspectives” in partnership with the Embrapa Amazônia Oriental (West Amazon EMBRAPA) (Belém-PA); and have collaborated in activities related to the defence of the Mangaba Pickers’ agendas.
- the Federal University of Pará, the Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform: INCRA-Sergipe), the Empresa de Desenvolvimento Agropecuário de Sergipe (Sergipe Corporation of Agricultural Development: EMDAGRO) and the Movimento das Catadoras de Mangaba (Movement of Mangaba Pickers: MCM), as well as local leaders, farmers, health agents and tradespeople, have supported the drafting of the above-mentioned map.
- Federal University of Sergipe, which has conducted studies and research related to the mangaba production chain and to threats to socio-economic and environmental dynamics.
- Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, aware of the issue and discussing concrete public alternatives in an attempt to curb the reduction of mangaba fruit in the state, including requesting the Federal Government’s Property Management Superintendence to indicate federal areas within the municipality.
- Rede Solidária de Mulheres de Sergipe (Sergipe Women’s Solidarity Network), a partner in production, training and commercialization activities run by ASCAMAI.
- Civil society organizations, social movements, councils and networks which work for the defence of the environment and in socio-environmental justice, identified as potential allies for being parties sensitised to positive changes in the operational conditions of civil society. 
- Some public authority sectors at municipal and state level, with whom the possibility of progressing dialogue about specific issues has been identified.

Which stakeholders did you identify as neutral and how did you mobilise them?
- Some members of parliament who were not in possession of sufficient information about the importance of the mangaba pickers’ extractivist practices and their agendas, mobilised through contacts, the dissemination of documents and meetings.
- Some women mangaba picker extractivists, who were not in possession of sufficient information about details related to mangaba production in the state and the production chain, traditional extractivist and agro-ecology practices.
- Mangaba consumers, who were not in possession of sufficient information about the mangaba production process through traditional extractivist practices.

Which stakeholders did you identify as opponents and why were they opposed?
- The federal government, which did not recognise traditional community causes and the demarcation of extractivist territories as a priority.
- Sectors of the municipal authorities and state government, who, despite dialogue arenas and one-off progress, did not prioritise structural activities.
- Landowners who restricted mangaba pickers’ access and had no interest in specific policy progress.
- Certain entrepreneurs responsible for deforestation practices for real estate expansion and the disorderly development of tourism, as well as other uses of natural mangaba areas, replacing and thus impacting on the native vegetation.

How did you involve your beneficiaries in the stakeholder analysis/campaign?
Women mangaba pickers were involved in running activities, participating in the mobilisation of interested and allied organisations; in planning and organisational activities; and participating in meetings and advocacy arenas to put pressure on the public authorities.

Short description of the organisation implementing the action/campaign

ASCAMAI, the Associação das Catadoras de Mangaba de Indiaroba (Association of Mangaba Pickers of Indiaroba) is a non-profit organisation composed of women mangaba pickers in the state of Sergipe. It was created in 2009 with the aim of collectively organising traditional women mangaba extractivists in the municipality of Indiaroba to, through collective organisation, produce and preserve this traditional culture with sustainable agroecological practices that respect the environment, promoting socio-economic development and generating income. In the state of Sergipe, it is active in seven municipalities where the mangaba extractivists are located and in two urban areas in the municipalities of Carmópolis and Aracaju. ASCAMAI is part of MCM, the Movimento das Catadoras de Mangaba (the Movement of Mangaba Pickers) of Sergipe; one of the original landmarks of the movement was the 1st State Meeting of Mangaba Pickers in 2007, when the MCM was created.
Among ASCAMAI’s main agendas is the recognition of traditional identity; free access to extractivist areas; access to and the creation of an extractivist reservation; land mapping of the territory; policies for income generation, and food and nutrition security and sovereignty. It carries out a number of activities for training, advocacy, improvements to production, processing and commercialisation. Aspects of gender and racial equality are important for their work, since most of the women associates are black women, affected by social, racial and gender inequalities, food insecurity, unemployment and lack of access to production arenas.
One victory worth highlighting is the recognition of mangaba pickers as a culturally differentiated group that should be protected, in line with its own forms of social organisation, its territories and natural resources; reports to the Federal and State Public Prosecutor’s Office with the signing of the Conduct Modification Agreement; inclusion of mangaba pickers’ production in the provision of school meals in Sergipe’s municipalities, within the Programa Nacional de Alimentação Escolar (National School Meals Programme).
ASCAMAI is currently part of several networks and forums, such as the Rede Solidária de Mulheres de Sergipe (Sergipe Women’s Solidarity Network), the Articulação Nacional de Agrorecologia (National Coalition of Agro-ecology) and arenas for the organisation of traditional peoples and communities at state and national level.

Action period
July to September 2019

Objectives
1. To contribute to the inclusion of mangaba pickers in the Sergipe State Government’s “Projeto Mão Amiga” (Friendly Hand Project), established by Law 6697/2009, to mitigate the effects of unemployment caused by the mangaba off-season, as occurs with workers of other crops, through mobilisation at the Sergipe Legislative Assembly.
1. To promote community strengthening and mobilisation, by raising awareness with the women mangaba picker extractivists.

Action results
1. Recommendation no.384/2019 of 24/09/19, made by parliament in the Sergipe State Legislative Assembly, to propose to the governorship the inclusion of mangaba pickers in the “Projeto Mão Amiga” (Friendly Hand Project), proposing an alteration to Law 6697/2009.
2. Women mangaba picker extractivists who constitute ASCAMAI and other mangaba communities in Sergipe are more mobilsed around the theme and monitor advocacy activities.

Description of preparatory activities
1. Mobilisation of partners and stakeholders.
2. Preparatory meetings with women mangaba pickers.
3. Information surveys and preliminary subsidy studies regarding the situation of the mangaba pickers during the off-season and possibilities of inclusion in the “Projeto Mão Amiga” (Friendly Hand Project).
4. Training groups to establish dialogue with the public authorities.

Description of implementation
1. Meeting of women mangaba pickers.
2. Referring demands to members of parliament and public bodies.
3. Holding a meeting with a member of parliament aware of the cause at the Sergipe State Legislative Assembly and with women from ASCAMAI, in September 2019.
4. Referral, on 24/09/19 at the Sergipe State Legislative Assembly, of Recommendation no. 384/2019 for the Legislative Assembly table, to propose to the governorship the inclusion of mangaba pickers in the “Projeto Mão Amiga” (Friendly Hand Project), which has been in operation since 2009 to mitigate the effects of unemployment caused by the sugarcane and orange crop off-season, promoting measures for income generation and training.

Description of time investment
15 days

Costs
Not calculated. Transport and food expenses for meetings and advocacy visits.

Follow up
ASCAMAI continues to monitor activities. Those worth noting are:
As its main result, ASCAMAI monitors progress of Parliamentary Recommendation no. 384/2019 through the Sergipe State Legislative Assembly.
Further, it monitors other demands that were already in progress with public bodies, such as the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, for example the mapping of Federal lands, which serve as areas for mangaba extractivism.
ASCAMAI continues participating in activities for institutional strengthening, training, exchange and visibility, such as the joint construction, with other organizations, of the XI Brazilian Agro-ecology Congress, with the prior holding of the Social Movements and Agroecology Plenary in Aracaju, Sergipe in September 2019; participating in activities for World Food Week in October 2019. Finally, in activities involving commercialisation and activation of the Rede Solidária de Mulheres de Sergipe (Sergipe Women’s Solidarity Network).

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