Honing production in the Xingu and ATIX certifying seal
About the Implementing organization
Name: Associação Terra Indígena Xingu – ATIX
Year of establishment: 1995
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization
The honey of the Xingu Indians is the result of a long-standing work by ATIX and its partners, who saw the Ministry of Agriculture’s (MA) initiative to democratize access to organic certification as an opportunity to respond to challenges posed to the organization's old certification system. With this, the MA allows groups of small producers from all over Brazil to organize themselves to self-certify their products without the intermediation of private certifiers. ATIX is the first one to receive such an honor. The certification by the ATIX today puts a product in the same condition as an audit-certified product. They have the same seal of the Brazilian organic conformity assessment system and can enter any market. The granting of the participatory system to indigenous peoples is an important step for strengthening the dialog between the MA and indigenous peoples. For example, reports of organic compliance verification can be completed in the original language of each ethnic group and then translated into Portuguese by village teachers.
Forests / Rivers / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Sustainable use / Mainstreaming into sectors / Access and benefit sharing
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Climate action
Besides the bee honey Apis Mellifera, common in the markets of Brazil, it is estimated that there are up to 100 species of bees known by the Xingu people. In 2013, they were invited to participate in The Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a UN-linked community of scientists discussing solutions to the threats to biodiversity on the planet. Other products benefiting from ATIX's work are the pepper produced and packaged by the Kisêdjê women and the pequi oil, enabling the country to know and consume organic healthy products produced in the middle of the rainforest. The forest area that benefits from these sustainable development activities has a carbon sink of 15.872,2 million tons of CO2, and between 2005 and 2014 these management practices accounted for 1.159,5 million tons of CO2 in avoided emissions. The TIX is home of at least 4 bird species and 183 mammals currently in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Collective efforts in the gathering and commercialization of the products have already improved the income earned by local communities. Brazil's commitments to emission reduction depend to a large degree on preserving the Amazon. Due the significant rise in annual deforestation rate Brazil's ability to reach their climate targets is being questioned. A study 2014 puts Brazil among the top 5 countries with major contribution to already observed global warming, mainly due to the destruction of its forests. One of the main strategies used by recent Brazilian governments to reduce deforestation was to increase protected areas including the recognition of indigenous territories. This strategy has been abandoned, but initiatives are being taken to support the sustainable development of territories already recognized. With the reversal of climate-friendly policies that currently takes place in Brazil, it is more important than ever to advocate for best practices such as those developed by ATIX.
When beekeeping was introduced in the TIX access to the villages was difficult. The main concerns of the indigenous communities were related to health issues, and organic honey was produced more for their own consumption than to generate resources. In 2003, ATIX received a permit to process organic honey, which made it possible to distribute the produce throughout the national territory. The attempt to place organic honey in cities nearby failed completely. ATIX began to look for other markets and finally, the Xingu Organic Honey hit the shelves of the largest chain of supermarkets in Brazil. Nowadays, the demand is much higher than production. In 2015 ATIX received accreditation to certificate. The participatory process for conformity assessment of organic standards has been easily assimilated and the level of participation is high, and it benefits other products produced in the TIX. The success of ATIX is an example that may be followed by other indigenous communities in the country.
This certification system, recognized by Brazilian organic regulation, can be adapted and implemented in different local realities. ATIX works with a broad partner structure that includes other indigenous associations but also a range of private and NGO organizations. Good sustainable management examples developed by ATIX and its partners have already been replicated in other conservation units. One example of this is the Seed Network, where indigenous women collect primary forest seeds that are later on sold to neighboring farms for reforestation purposes. A similar network is being established by river dwellers in the northern part of the Xingu Basin and in the Rio Negro Basin. ATIX experiences with participatory certification are also being used to further develop participatory certification public policy.
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