Castanhal Companhia Têxtil

Community Development

Castanhal Companhia Têxtil is a FairTSA certified producer of Jute fiber based in the northern state of Pará, Brazil. They are the countryʼs largest producer of the fiber, which is used primarily in bags storing  coffee, peanuts, cocoa, and potatoes.  To support the rural communities who cultivate jute on the banks of the Amazon river, Castanhal guarantees a minimum gate price, sponsors seed projects, and organizes agricultural education programs on the cultivation of organic, high quality jute fiber. With the improved financial stability brought on by these programs, producers for Castanhal be able to remain in their communities, preserve their unique traditions, and abstain from environmentally harmful income sources such as illegal mining and slash and burn agriculture.

The Golden Fiber

Jute is a fiber extracted from the bark of the White Jute Plant (Corchorus Capsularis), a rain-fed crop commonly grown in lowland areas. Dubbed "The Golden Fiber," its long stems produce a durable material ideal for use in burlap sacks and other textiles. In Brazil, Jute is produced primarily by rural, river-dwelling communities who plant the crop off the banks of the Amazon during the dry season. The flooding of the river during the subsequent season accumulates organic matter on the river bank which feeds the jute and fertilizes the soil for the proceeding year. Jute cultivation is of immense importance to these remote communities as it provides a steady, environmentally sustainable source of income that does not interfere with local subsistence agriculture and fishing operations.

 

Below: Preparation of planting area in Pará.
 

Community Development Projects 2016-2018

Community Development for Castanhal has focused primarily on the sustenance of Jute agriculture which constitutes one of the few lucrative income sources for the some 50,000 families living in the rural states of Pará and Amazonas.  To support these producers, Castanhal and associated non profit “IFIBRAM” have focused primarily on seed distribution and agricultural instruction. Being able to produce a light, high quality fiber is crucial for producers because it increases the competitiveness of Jute sacks in comparison
to synthetic bags and other non-organic alternatives.


Right: Cultivation occurs during the annual flooding of the Amazon

2016-18 Seed Project

For their initial community development project, 65 jute producing-families received assistance planting, cultivating, and processing 40  tons of high quality jute seed over a two year period. They were
also given assistance in the mechanical preparation of 50 hectares planting area, as well as instruction in optimal seed cropping and processing techniques. In addition to the jute cultivated during this venture, the 40 tons of high quality seed will allow for the future production of competitive fiber. In increasing yield quantity, efficiency, and fiber-quality, producers can ensure a livable income.

Below: Producer trainings aim to equip farmers with the skills necessary to better their community

Faviero project

2017:
To educate on the benefits of jute cultivation, 50 fiber producers in the “Faveiro” community of Viseu, Brasil, were given a grant of $600  (per hectare of land) to study and attempt jute cultivation. In addition to regular trainings in the production of high quality fiber, these farmers were guaranteed a price for their jute well above market value. This project attempted to not only educate on environmentally friendly and sustainable income sources, but also help farmers already interested in Jute avoid exploitative loan and financing arrangements.

2018: 

After conversations and meetings with 2017 participants producers decided it would be most beneficial to mechanize field preparation through the implementation of tractors and tilling equipment. Instruction and training in equipment usage was also included in this project which will greatly economize the previously laborious process of field preparation.

Mechanical tilling equipment provided as part of Castanhal community development