Experiment with microcredit for fruit farmers in Amazon region

Five years ago, Trias, together with Cresol, set up a cooperative microcredit bank in Codajás, a small town in the Amazon rainforest, to benefit local fruit farmers.
Trias was at the forefront of rural microcredit in Brazil in the 1990s. Thanks to the support of umbrella organisation Cresol, small credit agencies began to pop up all across the south of the country. As a result, half a million farmers could access small loans to buy to seed, livestock and machines for the first time.
Despite this success, today the majority of Brazil's ten million family farmers still face a shortage of investment capital. Trias Brazil has encouraged Cresol to respond to the need for credit in the northern states, including in the Amazon. That is why, five years ago, a pilot project began with the establishment of a microcredit bank in Codajás. The credit cooperative has been fully operational since 2018.
Fruit farmers from Codajás
The members of this microcredit bank are fruit farmers, who primarily focus on growing the acai berry, which is a dark blue or purple fruit native to Brazil, Peru and Suriname. Interest in acai berries has grown in recent years. The unusual taste and the large number of antioxidants have made the fruit popular in a short amount of time. 
To expand a fruit business, a farmer needs investment capital. Before Cresol came to Codajás getting that was a challenge, because there was only one small credit agency in this isolated town. 'Most farmers went to the provincial capital Manaus to get a loan,' explains Trias employee Gisele Obara. 'But the journey there and back by boat is 600 kilometres.'
Blossoming credit cooperative
In the last four years, Cresol's credit cooperative in Codajás has grown from 256 to 628 members. Both the savings and the assets of the fruit farmers have increased by more than 20-fold. As the farmers are financially stronger, the government has also opened a credit line in the town.
What is interesting about Cresol's microcredits is that the farmers have also received business guidance. 'Both in terms of cultivation techniques and business management, the farmers have learned all the tricks of the trade,' says Gisele Obara. This approach has been proven in southern Brazil and so is now being applied in the northern states.
Extra projects
The economic revival in Codajás has also not passed Nexans by. In 2018 this French foundation, together with Trias, started projects for more than 100 farmer families in and around the town. For the first time, these families got access to electricity and technical assistance to diversify their business activities.