Oscar Arruda D'Avila
Fellow Since 2000
This profile was prepared when Oscar Arruda D'Avila was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Drought-resistant palm trees native to the state of Ceará are the source of carnauba wax, a product that has markets worldwide but is dominated by large distributors. Oscar bypasses the middlemen who have long controlled the purchase of raw materials for processing plants. He has collaborated with small farmers to build a plant in the Bonfim-Conceição Settlement to refine the wax from locally harvested palm leaves. To help the farmers and harvesters become managers of production intead of simply being suppliers of raw material, he offers technical training and links with regional and national distribution networks. The region's small farmers now have a valuable alternative product that can provide them with good livings while taking advantage of local resources. Oscar is applying for environmental certification based on the guidelines of the International Standards Organization.