Historical Background

The early 80´s in Brazil were years of political effervescence in the rural area. The socio- environmental negative impacts of the Green Revolution, the distension of military dictatorship and the re-birth of social struggle in the countryside provided a special scenario for the establishment of organizations searching for a new developmental model based on ecological agriculture and cooperation.
In this context in January 1985 was created "Projeto Vacaria", located in the municipality that today is named Ipê.

Thus, born in the environmentalist movement, the initial objective of Projeto Vacaria was to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of ecological agriculture.
After three years of research in an area of 70 ha, the technicians that were participating in the project started to seek a broader insertion of neighboring communities, aiming to disseminate the proposal to regional farmers.
The partnerships established started to bear the first results, such as the Ecological Farmers Associations. These local organizations have some common features as: adoption of ecological agriculture, organization of small groups, small-scale processing, and the search for alternative channels to commercialize their products.

In 1991, Projeto Vacaria changes its name to Centro de Agricultura Ecologica Ipê - CAE-Ipê, distinguishing a new approach in their role. The new perspective is focused in enhancing the Ecological Farmers Associations; instead of just the application of ecological principles to handle different systems of cultivation.

In 1997, the perception to move beyond ecological production towards the design of sustainable agro-ecosystems, where social, political, and economic concerns must be taken into account, was incorporated. Based on this new vision, the organization adopted the new name: Centro Ecológico Ipê (Ipe Ecological Center).

In 1999, after eight years of work with farmers in the North Littoral of Rio Grande do Sul, Centro Ecológico opened an office in this region. At that time it also started to promote the organization of Ecological Products Consumers' Cooperatives, stimulating active participation of urban consumers. This new attempt was based on the premise that ethical consumption is an essential condition to enhance Ecological Agriculture and, to certain extent, a new model of development.

Along these years, developing several initiatives in Brazil and in others countries, Centro Ecologico consolidated its reputation as a major reference in Ecological Agriculture. The permanent exchange of experiences with other organizations and individuals is also an imperative that has been collaborating to enrich Centro Ecologico´s history.

Mission

To promote the practice of an ecological agriculture based upon the following objectives:

1. The preservation / reconstitution of the ecological basis to sustain the agro-ecosystems and their related natural ecosystems;
2. The social and economic viability of small-scale farm;
3. An equal, transparent and direct relationship between the different agents involved in food and fibre production, both producers and consumers;
4. The strengthening of rural and urban populations' autonomy and citizenship towards the construction of an ecological, popular and solidarity economy, and a social development model based on the valuation of labour and the respect of life in their multiple manifestations.

Guindance Principles

The positive results achieved by Centro Ecológico are based on the following principles:

1) An ecological vision of agriculture and its interface with natural ecosystems. Agricultural production systems are interpreted and managed as complex multidimensional systems, in permanent transformation. Its restructuring, involves different levels of intervention.
2) The interaction between popular and scientific knowledge in the process of building up the knowledge in the transition towards an ecological agriculture, setting up the basis for a new development model.
3) Economic and social feasibility of family farming. Smallholders are seen,
individually and collectively, as protagonists on the construction of a new
development model. It is established complementary attributions of roles
and tasks among Centro Ecológico, Family Farmers Associations and other
partners, in the process of building up and spreading technological
alternatives and social organization
4) The construction of new principals and practices for the integration between (i) producers and consumers; (ii) civil society, public agencies and the market; (iii) city and country.

Local Projects. Global Dimension

Centro Ecológico Ipê is a local NGO that has been working since 1985 aiming at viability of sustainable agricultural systems, through the adoption of alternative technologies, oriented to environmental protection and social justice.
Through visits, meetings, courses, field-days, training and, other participatory activities, Centro Ecológico advises smallholders' organizations in the fields of production, processing and commercialization of ecological products.
Some dimensions of our work involves the rescue and recovery of agricultural biodiversity in local agroecosystems, incentives to promote farmer and consumer organizations, development of a solidarity commercialization network, and the design and implementation of public policies to increment sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.

Sphere of Action

The work of Centro Ecológico is based in two regions in the State - the Highlands and the North Littoral. The latter is generically referred as to the Torres Region. Each of these regions has singular social-environmental characteristics, enabling different approaches in the implementation of ecological agriculture.


Cooperation and Support

The following organizations has been supporting and cooperating with Centro Ecológico:

· Future of Earth, Sweden
· Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Sweden
· Misereor, Germany
· Fundação Luterana de Diaconia, Brazil
· National Fund for Environment (Fundo Nacional do Meio Ambiente), Ministério do Meio Ambiente, Federal Government, Brazil
· PDA / PPG7 - Ministério do Meio Ambiente, Federal Government, Brazil
· Municipality of Garibaldi, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Network Participation

Centro Ecológico is a member of Ecovida Agroecology Network, a space of articulation formed by 23 NGO´s and 21 regional nuclei organized in Southern Brazil comprising more than 200 smallholders group. At the national level, we are connected with ANA - National Articulation of Agroecology. Internationally, we are an active member of MAELA (Latin America and Caribbean Agroecology Movement) and Future Earth, Sweden.


 

Artigos   

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Ipê-Serra - Rua Luiz Augusto Branco, 725 - Bairro Cruzeiro / Cep: 95.240-000 / Ipê - RS / Fone: 0xx (54) 3233.16.38 / E-mail: serra@centroecologico.org.br
Litoral Norte - Rua Padre Jorge, 51 / Cep: 95.568-000 / Dom Pedro de Alcântara-RS / Fone/fax: 0xx (51) 3664.02.20 /E-mail:litoral@centroecologico.org.br