With a smile upon his face, Raimundo dos Santos goes on stage at the American Chamer of Commerce (Câmara Americana do Comércio – Amcham), in São Paulo, to receive the ECO 2011 Award. “Small producers are very proud of this award. It confirms we are on the right track, promoting development in our region”, celebrates the producer.
Raimundo is associated to and president of the Southern Bahia Palm Heart Producers Cooperative (Coopalm), an initiative supported by Fundação Odebrecht and which seeks to guide family farmers who produce pupunha palm heart in the southern region. Guidance goes from ecological cultivation to harvesting and distribution of the palm heart, which, under the brand Cultiverde, has gained space in great retail network, such as Pão de Açúcar, Extra, and Walmart.
With the award, and Amcham initiative, Coopalm was recognized in the category Sustainable Practices – Sustainability in processes (small-, and medium-sized). The ceremony, which took place in December, also awarded projects divided in three other categories: Strategy, Leadership and Innovation, and Sustainability. In 2011, 108 projects were submitted, from which only 10 were winners.
During the ceremony, Raimundo presented the palm heart produced by Coopalm associates, and was questioned on the sustainability actions practiced by the cooperative. “We were very praised and approached by several businessmen who wanted to know our job,” he says. “What sets us apart from other cooperatives is that we take the benefits of sustainability to farm producers,” adds Coopalm president.
Launched in 1982, the ECO Award recognizes institutions that adopt socially responsible practices and encourages reflections on sustainable business development in Brazil. In 2008, the award became a joint effort of Amcham and the newspaper Valor Econômico, and has mobilized 1,912 multinationals and Brazilian companies. Altogether, the ECO Award accounts for 2,373 submitted projects up to date. Over the years, the initiative has influenced positively the commitment of companies to sustainability.