Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Wagner Gomes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
By bringing recent university graduates with rural upbringings together with small farmers in the semi-arid Northeast of Brazil, Wagner’s Local Economic Development Agency (ADEL) is giving poor farmers much-needed technical assistance for improving their productivity and marketing their products. As a result of his efforts, the farmers in this region are working together to share ideas and better sell their crops at the local and regional markets at higher prices, thereby, generating higher income to improve their quality of life.

ADEL is made up of young people from rural towns that have had the opportunity to acquire modern expertise in relevant fields that complements their traditional knowledge from the farm. Together with rural producers, they craft local diagnoses to identify the most viable marketing tactics, encourage the creation of farmers’ associations, provide technical support, and help build better systems for harvests and crop sales. Because the graduates have lived in the rural farming communities, they have greater sensitivity to the farmers’ particular needs and can earn the confidence of the older farmers. At the same time, they improve their practical knowledge of agricultural production and marketing techniques by learning alongside experienced farmers. Committed to promoting the development of the agricultural sector, Wagner recently instituted new initiatives to help young people who decide to remain in their community to become successful rural entrepreneurs.

Besides facilitating their training, Wagner is bringing farmers together for the first time to enhance their production and sales in a concerted way. ADEL helps unite them into networks of producers, which enables the farmers to align strategies and share resources in a way unheard of in the semi-arid region. These networks also serve to better leverage external ties with the private and public sector. In ADEL’s most critical alliance, the Bank of Northeast of Brazil (BNB) now supplies farmers with greater access to credit and assistance in debt negotiation. Such relationships are fundamental for Wagner in his plans for long-term impact as he expands to more farmer communities as well as implements new initiatives for young farmers. Wagner expects that ADEL will become a replicable model by strengthening farmers’ capacity and by encouraging rural youth entrepreneurship in the Northeast of Brazil and beyond.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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