Project ELO - Brazil

The Syngenta Foundation supported Project "ELO" in the northeast of Brazil from 2005-2011. Its aim was is to link farmers to share knowledge and exchange information, to increase the marketability of their crops.

How does ELO work?

ELO (Portuguese for "link") is part of Projeto Dom Helder Camara (PDHC). This is a local government-based enterprise which supports agriculture, social development, and local infrastructure.

Controlling the cashew crop

Cashew is a major traditional crop in north-eastern Brazil. It accounts for approximately 20% of crops harvested there. Traditional processing methods are labor-intensive, wasteful, and rely on third-party traders. ELO provided farmers with the knowledge and equipment to harvest, process and market their own cashews. Greater control enables farmers to become more respected partners. This gives them an independence which breeds a culture of pride and a sense of ownership in the farming community.

A sweet opportunity

ELO also helped participants diversify and explore new agricultural opportunities. Many farmers are now successful beekeepers and produce good harvests of both honey and wax. In some areas, local authorities buy the honey and distribute it to school children as a dietary supplement. Honey production additionally helps preserve biodiversity.

Spreading the net

A further focus of support was on fish farming initiatives. Fisheries have potential even in semi-arid areas. Thanks to ELO, many farmers are now enjoying commercial success who before only caught enough to feed their families. New skills and knowledge enable them to supply fish to local markets. Increased investment in cool storage and transport has further improved their opportunities.


Objectives and activities

Specific objectives were to:

  • give access to appropriate and innovative technologies,
  • support participative development and experimentation that improve living conditions in semi-arid areas,
  • reduce crop losses during harvest, transport, and commercialization,
  • promote food safety, market access, and product certification,
  • boost value enhancement through agro-industrialization,
  • support 'agro-socio-economic-environmental' education and solidarity organization processes.

Major activities included:

  • specialized consultancy in business plan development; infrastructure, communication, and marketing project techniques; improvement and commercialization of cashew, apiary products, fruits, and agro-ecological vegetables, etc.,
  • financial support of training, productive infrastructure and commercial projects, working capital, communication, and product marketing,
  • support for participation in promotional activities, such as trade fairs and cooperative commercial events, and in connection with local and regional stores, hotels, bars, and restaurants.