Oil palm in the Amazon: sustainable cultivation increasingly depends on women

Grupo BBF uses female labor in the planting and nursery of the company's oil palm trees
07 March, 2024
Collaborators of Grupo BBF

The cultivation of oil palm, also known as dendezeiro, in the Brazilian Amazon region has its origins in the hands of women. They are responsible for planting the palm seeds, caring for the nurseries and the agro-industrial activities of Grupo BBF (Brasil BioFuels). More than 800 women are employed by the company in all areas, from agriculture to industry, at the group's units, which have operations in Pará, Roraima, Rondônia, Amazonas, Acre and São Paulo.

The giant trees, which reach a height of around 15 meters and bear bunches of fresh fruit weighing approximately 12 kg, are born from small, fragile seeds that need to be planted in a shady area with constant irrigation. The seedlings generated by these seeds are kept in nurseries, in controlled environments, where they receive all the necessary cultural treatments to strengthen them before they go into the field.

One of the women working in this area is Venezuelan Gerardini Garcia, the agricultural leader who works at the Grupo BBF plant, located in São João da Baliza, in the interior of the state of Roraima. Gerardini is responsible for ensuring that the palm seedlings are fit to be planted in the field permanently, following their life cycle, generating fruit and recovering degraded areas of the Amazon rainforest.

"It was an opportunity to gain knowledge and change my life. I joined as part of the team of female farmers and today I'm one of the company's leaders in the field," says Gerardini, who has 32 employees on her team.


Most of the women employed at Grupo BBF are at the company's units in Pará (64%), followed by Roraima (26.32%). Women work mainly in the agricultural, people management, administrative and industrial areas. The majority of female employees have completed high school or higher education, are aged between 24 and 41 and hold positions in all areas of the company.

Currently, Grupo BBF is responsible for around 6,000 direct jobs and 18,000 indirect jobs. The sustainable palm cultivation carried out by the company is not mechanized and relies on greater use of manpower.

"The operations of Grupo BBF depend directly on humanized labor. That's why we highly value the local labor market, especially women who accept the challenge of working in our fields. We can say that it's through the hands of our female farmers that our business is born, which is why they have a special place within the company, occupying various positions in our business," concludes Milton Steagall, CEO of Grupo BBF.

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