In Brazil RE.TE has realized two significant projects, in partnership with MAIS NGO, promoting forest protection and agroecology in two regions of the Mata Atlantica, the primary forest that covered the whole Brazilian coast and of which only there are now patchy reserves. The first project was carried out with the quilombolas communities, afro-descendants, in the Vale do Ribeira (Sao Paulo State), the second in the eastern region of the state of Minas Gerais.
The intervention in the Vale do Ribeira, promoted with MAIS NGO, has improved the socioeconomic conditions of quilombolas communities of Vale do Ribeira, through conservation, recovery and sustainable use of natural resources of the Mata Atlantica, developing income generation activities in Quilombolas communities (descendants of African slaves who fled into the forest) involved in the project, through sustainable use of natural resources of the territory - and strengthening the organizational capacity and the political role of the communities themselves.
The Quilombolas communities traditionally develop a number of economic activities in small-scale, using the familiar labor. These activities can have significant importance in the composition of household income, increasing the variety of products and food safety of producing family, so that they can become, together with explotation of Juçara palm, an alternative source of income for local people, contributing to environmental conservation and to improving the quality of life of families.
In addition, the Juçara palm, which is today an important source of income, has been replanted and repopulated in 200 hectares of each territory, and installed a pilot unit for the processing of palm products and their marketing. Finally the project introduced agroforestry systems, combining trees and shrubs with agricultural cultivation and animals, obtaining benefits from ecological and economic interactions that occur in this process.
Aim of the project "Agroecology and socio-environmental training for sustainable development of the Minas Gerais East Region", initiated in 2008 and ended in 2012, was to promote agro-ecological experiences in the Ecological Corridor Simonésia-Caratinga.The area is part of one of the last remaining areas of Atlantic Forest in the interior of the state, but suffered over time a generalized deforestation. This area is considered extremely important, depending on the biodiversity (flora, mammals, birds, invertebrates), and the fauna is rich, particularly primates at great risk of extinction. The area is characterized by a high level of environmental degradation, deforested areas, eroded soils, and productive weakness of small landowners living in family farming and coffee cultivation.
As an alternative to conventional coffee production model, the Brazilian partners support the agro-ecological production and marketing of organic coffee, to strengthen and expand. The project trained farmers, strengthened production and marketing strategies, stimulated the political and organizational capacity of the basic institutions.The political and organizational strengthening of partners and beneficiaries has been achieved through the assistance given for the grassroots organizations of family farmers, supporting them in leadership training processes, management, social mobilization and articulation with other actors. All actions were based on participatory methodologies of popular education.
All agricultural productions developed were characterized by agro-ecological choice in its various aspects. Another very important aspect was the recovery of the diversification of food crops of family farmers and the stimulus to the use of traditional varieties - 'Creole'. Agri-forestry systems have been consolidated by technical assistance and by the spread of the experiences described in new properties. Technically, it was promoted the use of polyculture systems through the group of native species, local fruits, medicinal products, with beekeeping potential and beyond. As part of the agro-ecological training, the project activated groups in the field of agroecology, popular solidarity economy, medicinal plants, as well as farmers leaders. A participatory mapping and georeferencing of 80 families owned was realized, and organized a series of exchange visits and strengthened support for the Family Farm School. A bank of seeds of grass species suitable for growing in mixed systems with coffee in the alleyways was created, and a sperm bank expanded to other native species of the Atlantic rainforest, acting as a base of seeds exchange for the farmers and for the dissemination of the Atlantic Forest species. The development of beekeeping with native bees has been promoted as a priority activity. as well as the reforestation of micro-basins which originally flowed springs, made with endemic forest species.