Willy Pessoa

Ashoka Fellow
João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil
Fellow Since 2003


This profile was prepared when Willy Pessoa was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Willy has devised a new production system that integrates quality, productivity, and social and civic responsibility into a design for agricultural production. It takes the form of a "mandala" for properties of a minimum of two hectares. With it, Willy optimizes the use of natural resources, increases productivity, avoids waste through reuse of resources, and generates more income for the farmer.
Using this method, Willy teaches small farmers about building agricultural plots in the form of a mandala: the first three concentric circles are for growing subsistence crops; the next four for income generation; and the final one for environmental equilibrium and reforestation. At the center of the plot is a water reservoir, organically enriched through raising ducks and fish; it provides water for irrigation through a small, submersed pump. The cost of installation is low, and the system is able to irrigate all the outer circles through a drip system of microsprinklers made from Q-Tips and PET bottles.
With the first three circles, the families are able to supply their subsistence needs and a surplus for sale on the market, earning an income of some R$ 600 a month. The next four circles are for crop production for the market, and provide an increase in income of R$ 1,700 monthly. The last circle is devoted to planting native trees for environmental restoration. This entire process aims at contributing to the restoration of human dignity, through improving Quality of Life (QL), Economic Productivity (EP), and Environmental Equilibrium (EA) of Rural Family Production Units (UPFRs).
Willy completes the circle of production by working with the city around the concept of "fair trade," offering a higher quality organic product, reducing waste, and paying a higher value to the producer. He will work with companies both to mobilize their employees to be consumers of these products and to become corporate supporters of new mandalas by financing the implementation costs.
In the interests of replication of the project, Willy is engaging students in junior companies from various states, training them to be able both to replicate, implement, and provide follow-up for this new model of agriculture production and to disseminate it throughout Brazil. There are currently more than 600 junior companies operating in universities in all Brazilian states, representing 26,000 students. Disseminating this project through these youth committed to a new Brazil is an important challenge for Willy.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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