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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
individually and collectively, as protagonists on the construction
of a new
development model. It is established complementary attributions
and tasks among Centro Ecológico, Family Farmers Associations
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
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
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
· PDA / PPG7 - Ministério do Meio Ambiente,
Federal Government, Brazil
· Municipality of Garibaldi, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
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,