When sustainability is a purpose
It is enough to read Coopercitrus’ mission to understand why this cooperative is a Brazilian reference when the subject is sustainability. The entity has defined the following strategic objective: “deliver sustainable results to members and society”. And that is what it has been doing, especially after the creation in 2019 of the Coopercitrus Credicitrus Foundation – a non-profit entity that brings together all the cooperative’s socio-environmental initiatives under the same seal and governance.
Located in Bebedouro (SP), the Foundation operates with a focus on three main pillars, aimed at research, education and the environment. This way, it promotes the development of cooperative members, other farmers and the surrounding communities, relying on strategic partnerships that enable the idealization and implementation of initiatives dedicated to the sustainable development of agribusiness.
In the Foundation’s environmental arm, two programs are worth mentioning: CooperSemear, which helps cooperative members restore native vegetation conservation areas, and CooperNascentes, focused on restoring water mines in the countryside.
In the first program, professionals from the Foundation deliver to the associated producer an environmental restoration project tailor-made for his property, taking into consideration the requirements of the environmental legislation for preservation areas.
In addition, when it comes time to get the projects off the ground, the cooperative members also have the support of a native seedling nursery, maintained by the Foundation, where forest species from the Cerrado and Atlantic Forest biomes are grown. By October 2022, 46 projects had been concluded, with a total of 69,860 seedlings that recovered a total of 52.05 hectares.
The CooperNascentes project was born in 2020 with the aim of preserving and recovering springs (water mines), contributing to an increase in the water capacity and availability of water in rural properties and surrounding communities, reducing risks related to water scarcity, desertification and the reduction of biodiversity. By October 2022, 132 cooperative members had been contemplated with the recovery of mines. In total, 381 springs were restored, which meant an increase in the water capacity by 4,376,717.22 liters per day.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE
In the field of research, the Coopercitrus Credicitrus Foundation develops field experiments with partner companies, allowing farmers and students to learn different protocols for the sustainable management of crops. The institution is responsible for the structure for the operation of the spaces, which includes an automated irrigation system, machinery and implements for soil preparation, planting, conduction and harvesting, tractors with georeferenced modules for automatic pilot, planters with hydraulic and pneumatic systems for seed and fertilizer distribution, boom sprayers, and other implements to meet the companies’ requests in the best possible way. In addition, it provides manpower for the application of the protocols, which is supervised by two agronomists specialized in mechanization, treatments, agricultural experimentation, and coordination of field activities.
In addition, the Foundation maintains a recently modernized Soil and Plant Tissue Laboratory, with capacity to analyze 20 thousand samples per year. Soil analysis allows the rural producer
to optimize his productivity by identifying the concentration of nutrients and assessing soil fertility, contributing to better planning of agricultural management. The leaf analysis acts as a complement and helps in the evaluation of the nutritional state of the plants, highlighting eventual deficiencies and difficulties in their development.
Finally, the Foundation offers a series of extension and graduation courses for associated producers. Among the courses developed, the highlight is the Big Data in Agribusiness, a college-level course, launched in 2021 in partnership with the College of Technology (Fatec). After completing the course, the 40 students in the first class will be able to develop software dedicated to agribusiness, install and manage Internet of Things devices, and produce reports for the decision-making process of agribusiness managers. All this, aligned with the original mission of Coopercitrus to deliver sustainable results to cooperative members and society
In 2021, the Coopercitrus Credicitrus Foundation and 10 other Coopercitrus business units received certification for their Environmental Management System (EMS) based on ISO 14001, which specifies actions to protect the environment, control impacts and continuously improve processes. They served as a pilot for the cooperative to extend ISO 14001 to the other branches as of 2022.