News / 15 June 2023

How Agroecological Logbooks empower women farmers in Brazil

In the Jenipapo community, in the north-east region of the Caatinga Biome in Brazil, farmer Fátima Maria dos Santos runs her farm. Fátima is applying the principles of agroecology on her farm by having a cistern that collects rainwater, retaining native vegetation and developing an agroforestry system that comprises of native and fruit trees and crops and medical plants. Fátima is also one of the first farmers to be part of the 'Caderneta Agroecológica' or 'Agroecological Logbook' initiative, that stimulates women farmers to monitor their food production. This way, they get more insights about the value of production for the family, about monetary and non-monetary benefits and the preservation of soil health and biodiversity.

How does it work?

Women use their Agroecological Logbook to keep track of their yields: what they use themselves; what they give away; what they trade for other food, goods, services etc.; and what they sell in the market. At the end of the month, they calculate the fictional monetary value of these activities. This helps them and their families understand the relevance of their work, also compared to the rest of the monetary income of the family. To give an example: if vegetables are traded for cooking wood, there is no need to buy wood. The initiative also facilitates group discussions to encourage the exchange of knowledge and practices among women farmers. It raises awareness about the important role of women as food producers: it broadens the general view of monetary and non-monetary income and the contribution of women farmers to food and nutritional security. Moreover, the data and knowledge strengthen women farmers to engage with policy makers to improve policies that support agroecological food production.

Importance of having data

The importance of the logbooks for participating women farmers is evident: the logbook of Fátima and other women, for example, helped them in their discussions about seeds and reducing the risk of crop failure. These discussions led to the creation of a community seed bank, allowing farmers to conserve and share seeds for food production. This seed bank supports agrobiodiversity and helps the women to be more resilient to droughts and other climate change shocks.

Agroecological Logbooks have changed lives

Francineide Santos Dibrito, in rural Remanso, Bahia,, 3 months after starting to work with her Caderneta: "I couldn't believe it! So much money that I saved through my work!? And I haven't even counted all the fruits that my fruit trees give us.... You could say that I have earned more than a minimum salary per month. I never imagined this. I think these logbooks are very important."

Edneide Brito Nascimento in Pilão Arcado: "When my husband was unable to work and stayed at home for 3 months, he finally saw the importance of our garden and my investments in it are for the well-being of our family. Since then, he treats me with much more respect, and so do my children. All because of the work with the logbooks."

Both ENDS, Drynet and CAATINGA

The acricultural logbook project is supported by the working group Women of ANA (the National Agroecology Network) and the organisation CAATINGA. Both ENDS is working together with CAATINGA and the working group of ANA and supporting them in their fundraising efforts for the Caderneta Agroecológica initiative. Both ENDS and CAATINGA have been working together for more than 10 years in Drynet to advocate at the UN Convention to combat Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought for policies that support communities in drylands.

More information:

A short video about the Agricultural Logbooks (in Portuguese, but very comprehensible for those who do not understand Portuguese as well)

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