Female farmer from Sorriso is granted unprecedented certification to sell artisan cheese throughout Brazil

Farmer Rita Hachiya, from the Vila Láctea farm, located in the municipality of Sorriso, has made history by being granted the first authorization to market an artisan food product nationwide: the Poranga cheese. The certification, called Selo Arte (Art Hallmark), was issued by Indea-MT (Mato Grosso Agricultural and Livestock Defense Institute) and attests that the food was handmade, in compliance with sanitary standards, while maintaining its traditional, regional, and cultural characteristics.

The farmer, who started working with dairy cattle 14 years ago, improved her skills over time and made cheese production her only source of income. “I realized that I needed to add value to my product to make it more profitable, because I was no longer able to increase the number of hours I worked. So, I tried to improve the quality of the milk and cheese became my specialty,” says Rita.

Part of this evolution process was supported by a Rural Family Microcredit Program, called Fundo de Aval (Guarantee Fund), which was created in the municipality of Sorriso. Fundo de Aval allocates resources to family farmers by providing guarantees for microcredit operations with commercial banks and credit unions. Loan amounts can range from BRL 15 to BRL 30 thousand per family with more affordable interest rates.

In addition to collaterals for credit operations, small-scale farmers, such as Rita receive technical and managerial support, in addition to training and periodic follow-up. The Fundo de Aval is the result of the “Cultivating Sustainable Life” project, carried out in the municipality under the leadership of CAT Sorriso with funding from IDH, under the scope of the PCI Compact. The partnership with the City Administration and City Council made it possible for the Program to become a municipal law. “It was thanks to this funding that I was able to implement several improvements in the farm, such as mechanical milking,” Rita points out.

The farmer reports that the price of a kilo of Poranga cheese is sold above the market average, with added value for the quality of the entire process surrounding its making.

When visiting the Vila Láctea farm it is easy to see the farmer’s concern with issues like sanitation, animal welfare, and sustainability. The best practices go beyond quality feed and water and the responsible use of natural resources. They include activities that reduce animal stress, such as providing balls for the calves to play and massaging the cows.

In addition, the entire process from milking, milk storage to cheese making is planned and executed to ensure high quality. “The first requirement to work here is to love and know how to treat animals. Then comes the technical part, the work on the farm itself. And all this makes a difference in the quality of my product, which has the recognition of customers,” says Rita.

The executive director of IDH Brazil, Daniela Mariuzzo, underscores the importance of actions that reduce the barriers faced by producers, especially when they generate chain results. “Small farmers face several difficulties to get credit, expand their activities, and reach new consumer markets. IDH works to find and create solutions that support them in this trajectory”, points out Daniela.

According to Indea-MT, besides cheese, the Art Seal makes it possible for products such as sausages, fish, and honey to be evaluated and receive authorization to be sold all over Brazil.

In the below photos you can see the milking location before and after investments made with funds from Fundo de Aval