In Brazil, Veja sneakers stick to their alternative model

Since 2020, Veja has had some of its sneakers manufactured by Aniger, a Brazilian company.  Every day, 6,000 pairs of the French brand come out of the Quixeramobim factory, in the Nordeste.  Here, May 11, 2023.

THE bicudo ruins the cotton fields of Anselmo Algaroba. Fifteen days before the harvest of the white down wads, scheduled for early June, this 73-year-old Brazilian producer, owner of six hectares in Veneza, in the heart of the State of Ceara, in northeastern Brazil, has not more than a remedy against the cotton weevil: for lack of being able to use pesticides, he and his wife, Roseli, pick each flower affected and dried by hand, in the early morning, and burn it immediately to prevent the spread of the larvae that ‘it contains.

In Riacho do Meio, 150 kilometers away, Joao Felix, a cotton producer converted to organic, also fears an attack. The rain, which could wash the plants and drown the worms, is long overdue. And torrential downpours in February and March complicated the first sowing of January and hampered emergence in his sandy fields. Only 60% of the 171 growers in his cooperative, Esplar, managed to plant on time. The rows of Joao Felix’s cotton fields are sparse. And the plants attacked by the bicudo only bear a few flowers.

The beetle destroyed Brazilian cotton plantations in the 1980s. Since then, pesticides have imposed themselves everywhere, in large ultra-mechanized farms, such as in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

These ultra-powerful insecticides are sprayed there in abundance. Especially since the country, the fourth largest cotton producer in the world, behind India, China and the United States, claims to further increase its production and become the leading cotton exporter in 2023. To the chagrin of all those who denounce the damage caused by this industry and the impact of pesticides on health. “I often found myself showered with pesticides”, remembers Juan Felix Dantas, a 77-year-old farmer who converted to agroecology in 2001.

“This poison has no future”

In Ceara, however, hundreds of producers are resisting the temptation of pesticides or giving up on them. “Everyone knows that this poison has no future”, believes Anselmo Algaroba. And, according to him, “organic cotton pays well”.

Because, despite the attacks of the bicudo, and the chaos caused by the climate crisis, these producers live off their cotton land and feed on the rows of corn, beans, sweet potatoes and sesame planted nearby. At the Jardim farm, near Taua, the cotton harvest, which will require a month’s work, should “to be good”, also judge Francisco-Veloso de Oliveira, organic producer for five years. His remuneration is guaranteed within the framework of a fair trade contract established for several years, by his cooperative, ADEC, which brings together 220 producers around Taua, and Veja, a French brand of sneakers.

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