The Brazilian Sidro Polpas Co-operative was created in the 2000s on a rural settlement.

The settlement was created by the Brazilian government for displaced people, mostly from nearby Paraguay, to come and settle.

First, 28 families came and part of settling was to start planting acerola cherries, pineapple and guava.

The total site was 30ha, so each household had access to around 2ha.

Where was the market for this fruit? At first, a fruit pulper closer to Campo Grande city in southwest Brazil. However, this buyer got into regulatory difficulties and closed. What next?

At that moment, the producer families decided to set up a fruit pulping facility on their land. To generate capital, they set up a co-op.

Every family bought in and others from off the site were welcome to buy in too. A pulper was bought, a building with three rooms built for cleaning, pulping and packing, a refrigerated container and a blast freezer were bought.

Small scale

According to a co-op member, because of the small scale of their production, their main and best client was the government.

Brazilian small-scale family farms (average size 30ha) make up the largest percentage of farmers and occupy the smallest percentage of land in Brazil.

The Brazilian food procurement programme was set up in the early 2000s to support family farms, while also ensuring high nutrition and reducing food insecurity of the poorest part of the population.

The programme has been proposed as a model system for reaching sustainable development goals (SDG) 2030 targets, despite funding cuts in 2017.

This co-op sells its frozen fruit pulp directly to local schools as part of a school lunch programme. Children drink acerola cherry and guava, both high in vitamin C, every day.


The price is set annually by the government's supply company CONAB through a survey of local prices.

The products produced by Sidro Polpas are sold under a governmental small family farmer label 'acqi tem Agricultura Familiar' and the co-op has been able to make a profit, which it intends to invest in creating value-added products such as fresh juice.

Based on the earnings, farm families have been able to send their children to university.

However, the system is under threat of losing its land. The agrarian rural settlement system allows you to gain the title of your land after 10 years. You can then sell it.

Many co-op members have decided to sell and the current biggest buyers are soy farmers.

The fruit crops have suffered due to the pesticides drifting from the neighbouring soy fields and leaching into the water, according to a co-op member.


The elected manager of the co-op no longer lives on site because he is being threatened for speaking out against land sales.

A few of the farmers act as 'oranges', where they go into a quiet deal with a soy farmer before they have the right to sell, allowing the planting of soy on their land while they stay in their house until the titles arrive.

The manager is ready to retire, but does not know who will replace him. The children of the farmers are not interested in the farms and the price for soy has been rising each year for the last 10 years.

Currently, the amount of ultra-processed food in Brazil's school food system is under 20% compared with 70% in the United States (Price 2022) and 65% in Britain (Parnham 2022). Where will low-processed food for schools come from if all small-scale co-operatives like these close?

Molly Garvey is a 2024 Nuffield Ireland scholar and with all global contemporary scholars, she participated in the 2024 Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars’ Conference, hosted in Brazil this March.