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Areas of expertise: Curu and Aracatiaçu Valleys and Central Backwoods (2009-10)

Beginning: The technical assistance to federal settlements starts in 2005 as a convention,
but as a public call the beginning happens in 2010.

Family farming in Brazil is marked specially by its diversity; there are several groups connected to different cultural nuances and heritages, which were developed from accumulated local and/or regional experiences and needs, going through the availability and characterization of landscapes, climas, soils, economic-productive contexts and even the access to public policies like credit, land reform and technical assistance.

We know historically that the rural environment, especially the Northeast, was built in Brazilian imagination in a negative social representation, related to poverty, the opposite of civilization, with no cultural potentialities and late, unlike the modernization found in urban space. In spite of, family farming is responsible for the production of most of foods that reach the population table, offering an important contribution to the country food safety and nutrition. Furthermore, it condenses a set of productive socioeconomic and cultural aspects which accounts for the whole market.

In this way, this project brings the proposition to strengthen and improve the experience of family farmers, allying human being and environment with concrete actions for a sustainable handling and preservation of biodiversity intrinsic to healthy food production with agroecological practices incentive. The project’s main idea is to provide a quality technical assistance and rural extension (ATER), along families in settlement areas, facing natural issues through the promotion of actions for the consolidation of a sustainable and solidarity rural development, according to the reality of each settlement, strengthening family farming and valuing the several subjects existing in rural area, highlighting women and youth.

The principle of the rural technical advisory is to meet agroecological transition processes through participatory methods that prioritize the dialogue, making possible the reflection and the socialization of the specific knowledge acquired, building the agroecological knowledge and putting together popular and scientific knowledge, the last one being represented by the technician. Although insure the food safety and nutrition of the
families is the main issue, the earning of income through marketing surpluses is also developed and, besides de productive issue, there is also assistance to the social organization and to education.



One of the strongest images built about Brazilian semi-arid is the drought. Indeed, the water shortage shows itself as a concrete reality and a big bottleneck of social development in that space: there is lack of water to plant, to feed animals, to cook and even to drink. In times of drought, frequently the population becomes dependent on government policies and the water trucks sent or waters unfit for human consumption found nearby.

There are people who don’t agree with this idea. Several civil society organizations have been working in an effort to show that it is possible to coexist with semi-arid with life quality and producing. There are innumerable successful experiences of rain water catchment and storage, specially using cisterns, followed by a social mobilization process for the construction of technology and educative training to use that resource.

Água de Beber

Água para Produzir

Area of ​​activity: Central Hinterland
Start: 2009

The Dom Helder Câmara Project (PDHC) comes from a loan agreement between the Brazilian Government through the Ministry of Agrarian Development (MDA) and the International Fund for Agrarian Development (IFAD). It comes with the proposal of structuring actions to strengthen agrarian reform and family agriculture in the northeastern semi-arid region and to effectively invest in the articulation and organization of social participation spaces, operating in six states of the region: Sergipe, Pernambuco, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte , Piauí and Ceará. Through the Territorial Committees and Steering Committee, family farmers and agrarian reform settlers discuss their needs, express their views on the possibilities and define priority actions that can significantly change the course of their lives.

One of the arms of the PDHC is Projeto Sertão, which aims to contribute to the sustainable development and improvement of the quality of life of populations affected by the environmental degradation of semi-arid lands with an intersectoral approach in public activities in support of sustainable production and the reduction of poverty. In addition, it works to minimize the causes and negative impacts on the ecosystems of the caatinga biome by implementing systems that work the land in a sustainable way.

CETRA, within the Sertão Project, develops the Training Project for the Experimentation in Management of the Caatinga. It seeks to provide specific technical advice through a territorial process of training through experimentation, that is, through practices, and monitoring of environmental, productive, economic and social gains. There are nine settlements / communities, each with an experimental project developed according to its specific focus and appropriate to its profile of productive use, its demands, and related to the environmental physiognomy of each locality.

To train by experimentation is to build and expand the knowledge with the farming families in order to strengthen the structuring of their agroecosystems, using in a sustainable way the native forest formation. Thus, the management process of the biome is integrated into the productive projects of families, seeking to contribute to food security and income generation of families, as well as working to promote equity in gender and generation relations.

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In the field of solidarity finances, CETRA’s most specific work is with revolving funds and credit cooperativism, because those are expressions that strengthen local development in the sustainable perspective and are assumed for family farmers as a credit alternative directed to the strengthening of productive actions and social organizations. Solidarity finances make possible the social insertion of poorer people in the financial system and also the use of economic resources available in rural communities that start to circulate locally and territorially, generating wealth and contributing to the autonomy of farmer families, in addition to, since they are self-managed and democratic options, the solidarity finances create conditions to the communities and families involved in the process emancipation.


The Fundo Rotativo Agroecológico Solidário (FRAS) is a shared management project between CETRA and the Rede de Agricultores/as Agroecológicos/as e Solidários do Território Vales do Curu e Aracatiaçu, working since 2009 from a Banco do Nordeste notice; for its effectiveness, there were set partnerships with formally constituted organizations (Associações Comunitárias, Sindicatos de Trabalhadores e Trabalhadores Rurais, Cooperativa de Crédito Rural da Região de Itapipoca) and informal organizations, like communities productive groups and marketers groups. The main goal of FRAS is to allow farmers organized in groups or associations to access the solidarity credit without beadledom to finance the implementation or improvement of productive units of agroecological handling.


The operation principle is simple: the farmer calls upon the fund to get credit, gives back this amount in a period of time previously agreed according to the farmers possibilities and these same resources will be used for another family or for other needs of the group or community, also strengthening the social organization and creating a bond of union and solidarity between the participants.

Area of ​​activity: Central Hinterland and Curu and Aracatiaçu Valleys
Start: 2008

The challenge is this: to multiply agro-ecological knowledge in the home yard. And the families participating in the project accepted, striving to develop their cultivation practices in a different way from the conventional, without burning, without drilling and without using pesticides, as well as the symbolic revaluation of the yard as a work space, meetings and conversations of the Family and friends. From that point on, the different aspects of agroecological farms began to emerge. This area was historically cultivated by women, who began to express themselves in social and productive dynamics, enabling the formation of rural savings or extra income from the sale of surpluses In agro-ecological fairs.

The quintals are understood as a social technology of access and productive management of land, water, seeds, productive diversity of agricultural systems and the way of making communities of the territory, promoting the sustainability of family farming. It is in this space that diverse crops will be planted, among fruits, vegetables and vegetables, as well as animal husbandry, in a sustainable and integrated system, in harmony with the environment.

As the intention is to strengthen the idea of ​​living with the semi-arid region, the work is generally carried out in the direction of the construction of another social technology, which is the cistern, with a total volume of 52,000 liters, which accumulates rainwater for production and Human consumption, especially for use in production systems around the house, guaranteeing the food, nutritional and water security of families, in a perspective of living with the semi-arid. The idea debated is that it is not the environment and its climatic conditions that constitute the problem of the semi-arid, so it is not it that must be modified, but the human practices carried out in space.

The Backyards for Life project and the systematic monitoring of CETRA in the implementation of this technology start in 2009, based on the agroecological management and the continuous interaction between farmers and experimenters and multipliers and the institution's technical-social team. In the beginning, 30 quintals were divided between the municipalities of Amontada, Apuiarés, Itapipoca, Tururu and Trairi; Today there are 50 in the Territory Valleys of Curu and Aracatiaçu, in addition to 20 in the Central Sertão, divided between Quixadá, Quixeramobim and Banabuiú.



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Area of ​​activity: Valle del Curu and Aracatiaçu
Top: 2011

CETRA has always supported the self-organization of youth. In this project, young people from 25 communities in the municipalities of Itapipoca and Trairi participate in the project, which seeks to strengthen the organization of youth in the territory, strengthen its identity with the rural environment and promote actions that guarantee income generation. CETRA, with this project, was one of the twenty institutions contemplated in 2010 with the Fund Itaú de Excelência Social - FIES, in the line of Environmental Education, Education for Work and Early Childhood Education.

The key of all is to stimulate the youthful protagonism, giving a new look to the rural environment, generally deferred to the city by young people, being considered a space in which growth and happiness can not be found. To this end, several activities are being carried out, such as meetings, workshops - both related to the management of agroecological products, offering a source of income, as well as photography, in a process of sensitization and identification with the rural environment.

Trying to strengthen political participation as well, we can point out the First Territorial Meeting of Rural Youth in September 2011, and the bimonthly meetings with youth leaderships. Also as a strategy it is worth mentioning the creation of the youth sector committee of the territory to establish partnerships with all sectors that develop actions for this specific public, thus providing the territorial articulation of the youth of the countryside and the city based on a more refined dialogue between Public power and civil society.