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Results Briefs October 23, 2020

Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Rio de Janeiro


Rio Rural Program / EMATER


Small farmers in northeastern and southeastern regions of Brazil engaged in sustainable integrated ecosystem management, farming systems, and rural development. These improvements affected 223,152 hectares of agricultural production systems. A total of 3,359 small farmers experienced improved links to at least one productive chain, and 37,172 small or family farmers, including 5,280 women, adopted more productive, sustainable systems.


In 2009, the State of Rio de Janeiro (SoRJ) faced problems that included low agricultural productivity, limited market links, degraded natural resources, rural poverty, low capacity to respond to market demands, inefficient and unsustainable agricultural practices, and poor infrastructure. In addition, in 2011, severe mudslides occurred in the Serrana region of the state of Rio de Janeiro. In response, the central government requested World Bank assistance in providing emergency support to enable the affected rural farmers to resume agricultural production.


The Rio de Janeiro Sustainable Rural Development Project was designed to increase adoption of sustainable farming systems, productivity, and competitiveness for smallholder farmers in the state of Rio de Janeiro, as well as to finance emergency relief activities aimed at supporting smallholder farmers in rapidly restoring their productive capacity after the 2011 flooding and 2015 drought. Project investments primarily focused on linking smallholder farmers to markets, promoting education for innovation and growth, and improving governance by strengthening public management of the rural sector. The project aligned with the government of Brazil’s priorities to increase productivity and competitiveness in the small-scale farming sector and to improve natural resources management.


Productive, sustainable systems were introduced by 37,172 smallholder farmers/family farmers, 5,280 of whom are women


The project focused on increasing adoption of sustainable farming systems and expanding productivity and competitiveness in the small-scale farming sector. Direct key results achieved during the project’s implementation period (2010–2018) include:

  • The development of five productive value chains (coffee, milk, organic, peach palm, and strawberry) was supported and benefited farmers by reducing their operating costs, increasing their productivity and incomes, improving pricing policies, and promoting important environmental gains, such as erosion control, reduced pesticide use, and optimized water use. Other project contributions to the development of agricultural value chains include an average increase of 20 % in the coffee sale price due to increases in product quality; mechanization and consequent reduced production costs; a 20 % increase in milk productivity and sale price due to investments in productive assets and herds with improved genetic quality; and expanded plantings of palm hearts, with new technologies to increase productivity and reduce crop losses.
  • Improved production systems now extend over 223,152 hectares of agricultural land, and 3,359 smallholder farmers were included in (or have improved links to) at least one productive value chain. By introducing greenhouse hydroponic strawberry production, for example, productivity improved while the need for pesticides was reduced.
  • Productive, sustainable systems were introduced by 37,172 smallholder farmers/family farmers, 5,280 of whom are women.
  • Rehabilitation or maintenance of 7,127 kilometers (km) of rural roads improved drainage systems, erosion control, and lining of canals/channels.
  • Financing was provided to 38,221 environmental and productive investment proposals (subprojects), and 370 hydrographic micro-basins were reached.
  • After the natural disaster emergency in 2011, 2,277 emergency subprojects were financed that rebuilt 890 km of roads and 46 small bridges and reached 1,908 affected farmers. Emergency-related activities also helped strengthen community organizations, improve local planning and participatory identification of support projects, and train technicians and beneficiaries.

Bank Group Contribution

The Bank, through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), provided an initial loan in the amount of US$39.5 million and an additional loan for US$100 million to finance the project.


Photo: Rio Rural Program / EMATER


In addition to the IBRD loan, other project financing included US$39.5 million from the government of Rio de Janeiro. The private sector also participated by implementing an economic sustainable system (ESS) that served as a financing mechanism for family farmers, providing US$3.6 million for that purpose.

The experience, capacity, and commitment of the project’s implementing agency, State Rural Extension Agency (EMATER), were key factors in the project’s success. In addition, the partnerships between the Bank and relevant government entities, including the State Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Supply (SEAPPA),the State Secretariat of Agriculture and Fisheries of the State of Rio de Janeiro (SEAPEC), the Brazilian Agriculture Research Enterprise (EMBRAPA), and the State of Rio de Janeiro Agriculture Research Enterprise (PESAGRO), combined with the commitment of the private sector and local community members, were fundamental to the project’s success.


The project benefited 37,172 smallholder farmers and family farmers in the State of Rio de Janeiro. An additional 3,359 smallholder farmers were included in at least one of the five productive value chains, leading them to adopt more productive, sustainable farming systems and increasing the hectares of agricultural land under such systems.

Beneficiary Ayldo da Silva Motta noted that the project allowed her to work as a smallholder farmer in Silva Jardim, her home. "With the support of Rio Rural, I [am] able to live only with what I produce in my community. Before the program arrived, I had to work as a bricklayer in the city to take care of my family.”

Moving Forward

The State of Rio de Janeiro remains committed to supporting local-level capacity building for participatory rural development and environmental management, increasing productivity and competitiveness in the small-scale farming sector, and improving natural resources management, all of which constitute key priorities in the Bank’s 2018–2023 Country Partnership Framework for Brazil. Moreover, despite the project’s closure, beneficiaries continue to be aware of the benefits it brought to the region and remain committed to implementing the project objectives of fostering the prosperity of the state’s rural economy and to making those benefits last into the future.