In Santa Maria da Boa Vista, 611 kilometers (380 miles) away from the city of Recife, capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, a group of 16 rural producers has established a collective farm to raise dairy goats. The initiative, which counts on support from the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae), is already proving successful.
It was in 2005 that the producers in the Agricultural Association of the São Francisco Valley (Aprisco do Vale) decided to form a group to raise dairy goats. Around the same time, they participated in caravans promoted by Sebrae to get to know similar experiments that have been developed in other regions, and they also underwent training. Then, the group's technical team elaborated a joint production project to raise dairy goats in a collective farm.
With the finished project in hand, the farmers managed to raise a bank loan to buy the goats and build the infrastructure of the farm. Thus, project structuring started taking place. Now, there are 180 goats: 70 lactating ones that were raised by a riverbank, and 110 that are being prepared to produce milk. The plot of land, which totals 215 hectares, is used under bailment, and belongs to some of the raisers who are collective farm members.
The collective dairy goat farm is part of the project "Strengthening of Caprine and Ovine Culture Activities in the São Francisco Valley," developed by the Sebrae in Pernambuco.
The regional manager for the project, Bras Lomanto, explains that all raisers in the collective farm have adopted the motto "everything belongs to everyone." "Everything, from raising to production, is the responsibility of all raisers. The expenses and also the amount earned from sales are equally divided," he says.
Production in the farm started three months ago. In the property, around 140 liters of milk are produced per day, or two liters per animal.
"Our goal is to attain a production level of up to four liters of milk a day per animal," says Lomanto, who is based at the Sebrae Unit in the city of Petrolina (state of Pernambuco).
According to Lomanto, the goat milk is processed into handmade cheese and the remainder, which equals approximately 30%, is distributed throughout school meals by the municipal administration.
From 2008 onwards, the distribution of production will be different. By means of a partnership with the São Francisco and Parnaíba Valley Development Company (Codevasf), the farm's raisers, who are members of 'Aprisco do Vale', have raised funds to build and equip a small processing plant for goat milk and derivatives.
A tender will be issued to hire a company for building the plant, and another for supplying the equipment. The plant is expected to start operating in July next year.
The president at 'Aprisco do Vale', José Américo Leite, explains that when the plant becomes operational, the collective farm will supply pasteurized goat milk to the Zero Hunger program of the Brazilian government, and chocolate-flavored milk for school meals.
Consumers, on the other hand, will be able to buy cheese, yoghurt, and milk candy produced in the farm. "The plant will have a processing capacity of up to 1,000 liters of milk per day," he states.