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Association in the Settlement Areas of the State of Maranhão (ASSEMA)

Woman from ASSEMA planting lettuce, Brazil.ASSEMA organizes thousands of women-headed rural families in Northeast Brazil to remain on and make a living from farms gained through land reform. Founded by courageous women who chose to fight for their community instead of accept evictions, ASSEMA puts great emphasis on the value of women’s work and a respect for local cultures and the environment. With ASSEMA’s support, rural women lead campaigns to protect the native Babaçu palm tree and their livelihoods as Babaçu nut harvesters. Through local cooperatives and associations, Babaçu nut harvesters are able to sell their products for a fair price and benefit from royalties payments for the use of their traditional knowledge by cosmetic companies.

In addition, ASSEMA supports the widespread use of organic farming practices that include the intercropping of Babaçu trees with grains and fruit bearing plants. These initiatives will be complemented by fruit processing strategies that enhance the economic value of local crops and achieve some of ASSEMA’s key objectives: increasing the productivity of subsistence family agricultural practices, diversifying local diets and incomes, and developing a sustainable economic base for the region’s poor peasant families.

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