Adapta Sertao: Adapting Small Farmers to Climate Change, Brazil


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Adapta Sertão is a network of organizations which aim to assist small scale family farmers in adapting to local climate changes in the semi-arid community of Pintadas, Bahia, Brazil. The NGO’s main focus is to provide support to family farmers in accessing water infrastructure, farming technologies, micro-finance, technical assistance, processing plants and markets for agricultural products produced. Adapta Sertao promotes the collaborative involvement of NGOs, the private sector (including cooperatives), the public sector, as well as research entities in all project efforts to support family farmers.


Although Brazil maintains the rainiest semi-arid land space in the world, rain in the area is often irregular in time and space and evaporation rates of rainwater are typically three times greater than the region’s actual rainfall. Accordingly, Brazilian semi-arid communities have recurrently been faced with prolonged periods of drought and recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that drought and heavy precipitation are occurrences that are expected to further increase in the region over the coming years.

Semi-arid, Brazil

In addition to the harsh environmental factors inherent to the region, over half of the poorest segment of Brazilian society resides in the semi-arid of Brazil; making it a space of extreme social exclusion. In addition to enduring the social and climatic related challenges of the region, small-scale family farmers in Pintadas, Bahia have also traditionally used obsolete and ineffective agricultural practices. Accordingly, local small-scale farmers have acquired meagre agricultural yields and have contributed to severe land degradation throughout the region.

Project Approach

The Adapta Sertão project focuses on addressing small-scale semi-arid farmers’ historic challenge in accessing farming technologies, technical assist, low-cost inputs, financing and markers which are appropriate to local social, environmental and cultural considerations.

Improving the adaptive capacity of small-scale family farmers in the semi-arid

Accordingly, the organization has helped to establish and strengthen a farmers’ cooperative in Pintadas, Bahia. The farmers’ cooperative purchases the fruit and beef cattle of local farmers, processes and then commercializes these goods to a federal government school nutrition program. Adapta Sertao has also provided technical support to the farming cooperative in establishing an animal feed unit which cost-effectively attends to the nutritional needs of local livestock. What is more, the farming cooperative boasts a refrigeration unit for local farmers’ dairy milk, a technology centre which retails low-cost farming technologies appropriate to the cultural and environmental characteristic of the region, as well as technical support services to farmers in the implementation of these technologies.

In addition to offering dynamic support the local farming cooperative, Adapta Sertao has helped to establish a local micro-credit bank with loan services specific to small-scale family farmers. Furthermore, it has implemented basic water infrastructure to help support crop irrigation and livestock production on small-scale farms.

As a result of its unique collaborative approach to addressing semi-arid farmer challenges, Adapta Sertao has worked in partnership with several public and private sector, NGO, research and civil society actors. Such actors include the NGO, Rede de Desenvolvimento Humano (REDEH) which provides technical, financial and administrative support to beneficiaries of Adapta Sertão, the public agricultural research institution EMBRAPA Semi-Arid which assists in developing and systematising integrated production systems for farmer cooperative members, the credit cooperative SICOOB which provides credit distinct to the needs of small scale local farmers, the National Supply Company (CONAB) which purchases food stock from farmer cooperative members and supplies it to local school meal programs (PNAE), among several others.

Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts


  • Decrease in domestic workload among female heads of households
  • Local adaptive capacity strengthened by small-scale farmers improved access to agricultural technologies specific to local farming needs
  • Increase in human capital of farmer cooperative members due to improved access cooperative technical support
  • Improved health and wellness of family farmers, as a result of water technology installation
  • Local livelihoods strengthened
  • Improved local food security
Improving access to agricultural technologies specific to the needs of local family farmers‎


  • Decrease in land degradation as a result of agricultural mal-practice
  • Decrease in staple crop loss


  • Increase in salary of local family farmers
  • Spur in local employment opportunities
  • Inclusion of small-scale farmers in local market system
  • Stimulation of local economy
  • Improved agricultural production among small-scale family farmers
  • Improved access to financial credit

Recent Achievements

  • Good practice Dubai Award/ UN- Habitat (2008)
  • Good practice award from the Wisions organization (2008)
  • SEED Award (2008)

More information on this initiative

Related pages in the Entrepreneur's Toolkit

External links and References

Adapta Sertao. (2010, 10 6). III Forum Adapta Sertão- Acesso a tecnologia, conhecimento e assistência técnica: a experiência do Adapta Sertão. Bacia do Jacuípe, Brasil: Adapta Sertao.

Adapta Sertão. (n.d.). Sertão. Retrieved 12 2012, from Adapta Sertão: Technologias socias de adaptacao a mudanca climatica:

Cesano, D. (2012, November 15). Adapta Sertao Field Trip, PowerPoint Presentation. Pintadas, Bahia, Brazil: Adapta Sertao.

Cesano, D. (2012). An Integrated Approach to Improving Adaptive Capacity: The Adapta Sertão Experience. Practical Action, Lima.

SEED Initiative. (2008). Pintadas Solar. Retrieved 12 2012, from SEED Initiative, Awards & Winners: