Association in the Settlement Areas of the State of Maranhão (ASSEMA)

The Association in the Settlement Areas of the State of Maranhão (ASSEMA) supports rural families struggling to remain on and make a living from land gained through land reform. An association of rural workers in northeastern Brazil, ASSEMA provides technical support to settler and Afro-Brazilian Quilombola families, helping them implement small-scale family agriculture and production. ASSEMA also organizes these communities to advocate for a more equitable distribution of resources to address the structural inequities that have kept the poor in Maranhão hungry for generations.

ASSEMA puts great emphasis on the value of women's work and a respect for local cultures and the environment. With ASSEMA’s support, rural women lead campaigns to protect the native Babaçu palm tree and their livelihoods as Babaçu nut harvesters.  Through local cooperatives and associations, Babaçu nut harvesters are able to sell their products for a fair price and benefit from royalties payments for the use of their traditional knowledge by cosmetic companies.

In addition, ASSEMA supports the widespread use of organic farming practices that include the intercropping of Babaçu trees with grains and fruit bearing plants. These initiatives will be complemented by fruit processing strategies that enhance the economic value of local crops and achieve some of ASSEMA’s key objectives: increasing the productivity of subsistence family agricultural practices, diversifying local diets and incomes, and developing a sustainable economic base for the region’s poor peasant families.