Fellow Since 1990
Cooperação Asplande (Assessoria & Planejamento para o Desenvolvimento)
This profile was prepared when Mara Ferreira was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
Modern sectors of society and the economy have developed the institutional capacity to step back and systematically analyze every aspect of their work. In many ways this questioning, measuring, adjusting, and reforming process explains the competitiveness and vitality of these sectors and of the organizations within them. The intellectual tools developed over this century to serve this process convey great advantages to those who can use them.Systems analysis, one of the most important of these tools, provides the ability to think through how many interconnected pieces in motion over time might respond to the changes a manager or policy maker may wish to consider.These tools are routinely available to city managers and executives in oil companies. They are not within the reach of small pig farmers.Mara's contribution is in serving as a bridge between these divergent worlds. She has learned how to work in rural areas using the analytical skills of modern, urban Brazil.She is now planning to show how these analytical skills can be used to help small farmers systematically improve how they raise pigs or grow bananas. She will map out their entire value-added chain and then seek out, test, and refine ways of improving it. Where is the best place for a pig pen? How should it be designed? What about fencing? Feed? Shade? Breeding? What should the owners do at different stages in an animal's life? What are the possible marketing channels?Analysis alone will not work. That is as true among small farmers as it is in city offices. The second half of Mara's bridge building is human and cultural. She has got to make the analysis become the farmers' analysis if its conclusions are ever to make sense and lead to real change.