A victory for good, clean and fair food for everyone: children Amazonas will have indigenous food for school meals!

In early November, 26 indigenous Sateré-Mawé producers signed an agreement with the Municipality of Maués in Amazonas to supply their good, clean and fair products to indigenous municipal schools in Amazonas. The agreement will remain in place for one year and is worth approximately R$103,000 (approx. $26,000), and around 50 indigenous municipal schools in Maués, with around 2,000 pupils, will benefit.

“We are delighted, now we know that we will sell products at a fair price, as many people were discouraged because the price was not fair, because of intermediaries and other issues. And now children will eat our food at school”, says one of the Sateré producers.

The process was driven by the Slow Food movement in partnership with the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Amazonas (IFAM), together with local stakeholders and with the support of a project financed by the International Fund For Agricultural Development – IFAD to empower indigenous young people to defend and promote their cultural heritage, which has been operational for two years in the Andirá Marau Indigenous Territory of the Sateré Mawé people, in the municipality of Maués, Amazonas. To find out more, we interviewed some of the main stakeholders.

José Guedes, a Slow Food network facilitator in Amazonas, says that “what is happening is very important in many ways. It is estimated that the project may even double the farmers’ income in one year, although monitoring is required, but we hope to be able to increase autonomy from this public school meals policy. In terms of objectives, we hope to be able to provide quality food with important cultural value to the children and young people in indigenous municipal schools, and to contribute to the food and nutritional security of children in indigenous municipal schools”.

Many activities were undertaken in preparation and various partners sensed the importance of the project, supporting the process at different stages. They include the Centro de Trabalho Indigenista (CTI)[1], the Comissão de Alimentos Tradicionais dos Povos do Amazonas (CATRAPOA), and the Centro Colaborador em Alimentação e Nutrição do Escolar of the Federal University of Amazonas (CECANE-UFAM).

Since 2018, Slow Food has been conducting the above project together with the communities around the River Marau (particularly those in the lower Marau and lower Urupadi). In this area, the project complements IFAM’s integrated Agroecology technical course, in which 40 people (mostly young people) are taking part and which includes practical activities (in agroforestry systems and animal husbandry) with young people involved in the development of public policies.

Melissa Michelotti Veras from the IFAM explains that in talks on the agroecology course, young Santeré-Mawé people said clearly that in schools a lot of food comes from outside. Therefore, “the process is the result of a demand identified by the people to have a school meal that respects their food culture”.

Mr. Guedes explains the experiment: “first we had to understand the production situation, then between Slow Food, the IFAM and young Sateré young, we carried out a participatory assessment and held meetings in seven lower Marau communities”. “Once we understood that products were available for school meals”, says Melissa from the IFAM, “we opened a dialog with Maués City Hall to make this wish a reality”. As Mr Guedes puts it: “this information was very important to present to the public managers of the municipality, since, unfortunately, there is a mistaken view that indigenous people do not produce food and that they would have difficulty meeting demand. Our study revealed numbers on the diversity and quantities of production, which was important for convincing decision makers.”

We have made an important step in this Municipality, Maués, besides guaranteeing income, the process defends the rights of these people and respect of their food culture and, furthermore, we are discussing an important issue, says Melissa from the IFAM. Moreover, the challenge now is to continue this activity and to provide support so that this process can be carried out and managed by producers and young producers. Melissa goes on to talk about the next steps: now the young people need to work on production and on organizing production and logistics in order to meet demand. The Sateré produce a lot (as we discovered with the participatory assessment) and they are very motivated. This is the first experiment and we think it can give people inspiration to grow: by creating other tenders to serve more schools and include more producers.  We face many challenges, but the potential is huge. The Sateré are excellent farmers!

Sateré-Mawé communities have been members of the Slow Food movement since 2003. In fact, the Sateré-Mawé have two “Slow Food Presidia”[2]: one to promote traditional Waraná production methods and the other to promote the unique canudo bee honey. Through the Slow Food network, the Sateré-Mawé have been able to expand their market to Europe[3] and they are currently part of the Slow Food project supported by the IFAD. The project aims to promote different marketing channels for community products, in addition to including young people in the community’s production and policy activities, and raising awareness around food sovereignty and agroecological food production techniques. Globally, the project is being rolled out in nine more indigenous communities around the world[4] and is part of the Slow Food indigenous people’s network “Indigenous Terra Madre” (ITM),[5] which brings together indigenous communities, partners and various organizations.

Technical note:
The project took the opportunity to contribute to the development of a public policy under the National School Meals Program[6] (PNAE) in the municipality of Maués-AM.  In order to guarantee healthy food for students in indigenous municipal schools in Amazonas, the Attorney General’s Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Amazonas issued a technical note (no. 01/2017/ADAF/SFA-AM/MPF-AM), via an interinstitutional arrangement with the Agência de Defesa Agropecuária e Florestal do Estado do Amazonas (ADAF) and the Superintendência Federal de Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento do Amazonas (SFA/AM).

This note facilitates the supply of agricultural products (both vegetable and animal) by indigenous producers to public procurement tenders for school meals. On this technical and legal basis, processed vegetable products, such as açaí wine, bacaba and buriti, sugar cane juice and various juices, as well as animal products (fish, chickens, eggs, pigs, goats, etc.) are exempt from the health surveillance, given the family-based nature of this production. It is worth mentioning that processed vegetable products must be consumed on the same day, because in most local situations the lack of electricity means that storing such food is not feasible. Thus, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office recommends that states and municipalities that have indigenous schools create specific tenders for school meals.

[1] The institution responsible for drawing up the Territorial and Environmental Plan (PGTA) for the Andirá Marau Indigenous Territory. Reference to the Centro de Trabalho Indigenista – https://trabalhoindigenista.org.br/home/

[2] For more information about Presidia: http://www.slowfoodbrasil.com/fortalezas. Slow Food Presidia aim to preserve traditional products at risk of disappearing, to preserve traditional production methods at risk of disappearing, or to maintain the countryside or ecosystems at risk of disappearing, through environmental and socioeconomic sustainability, guaranteeing future viability for traditional products,

[3] Sateré products are sold through the Consórcio de Produtores Sateré-Mawé (CPSM) and have the Nusoken mark. See the site below for more information: http://www.nusoken.com/

[4] In Brazile, work is also being done with the Kiriri in Bahia

[5] Indigenous Terra Madre Network: https://old.slowfood.com/our-network/indigenous/

[6] The National School Meals Program (PNAE) offers school meals and educational activities around food and nutrition to students at all stages of public elementary education and is implemented through transfers from the federal government to states, municipalities and federal schools. Of the total amount of purchases, 30% of the amount transferred by the PNAE should be invested in the direct purchase of family farming products. Site information: https://www.fnde.gov.br/programas/pnae

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