The Fazenda Vaccaro is situated in the county of Rio de Contas. Its administrative centre, a small town with the same name, is an old colonial city (founded in1745) with the status of national monument. The county has about 15.000 inhabitants, the majority living in the rural zone. Its climate is very diverse, 70% of its territory lies at 600 meters (1968,5 feet) above sea level. An estimated 800 ha are used for the cultivation of sugar cane.
Most of the sugar cane is used for the production of cachaça, the rest as fodder.The entire cachaça production is sold in bulk to middlemen at the average sales price of 0,70 cents (about 20 dollarcent) per litre, regardless the quality of thecachaça. This type of trade impedes the production of quality cachaça. Approximately 500 families (landowners and share croppers) get their incomefrom this economic activity.According to a study held by the EBDA (Empresa Baiana de Desenvolvimento Agrícola) the production cost of traditional cachaça ( with a salary of R$ 8 per day ) liesaround 0,45 cents per litre, resulting in a net profit of 0,25 cents per litre of sold cachaça.
In this context, the Fazenda Vaccaro plays an edifying role. Being close to thesefarmers, the Fazenda shows them how to produce quality cachaça and to obtainbetter sales prices ( through bottling and selling straight to the consumer ). Theby the Fazenda administered lectures and courses aim to organize these farmersin associations , strengthening them through unison and enabling them to reachthe quality market.
Thirty percent (30%) of the county’s territory is situated at 1400 m (4593,1 feet) above sea level (semi-temperate climate). Here we find Mato Grosso, with its altitude of 1600 m (5249,3 feet) the highest village of Brazil's Northeast. Most of its inhabitants are from Portuguese descent, gold prospectors who arrived in the region at the end of the 17th century.Today, this community’s scarce lands are used for the cultivation of coffee,vegetables and flowers. Nearby are two more communities, mainly populated by Afro-Brazilians. There areabout 120 families, farmers who barely succeed to provide for their basic needs.The entire agriculture of Rio de Contas is based on micro- or small farms, 95% ofits owners doesn’t use agro-toxins and 85% doesn’t use chemical fertilizers.
Taking into account these data, the Fazenda Vaccaro is tempting to sensitize and organize these farmers. In this way, we’re trying to improve the quality of theirproducts through organic agriculture. In a near future, we intend to commercialize these products on the more demanding markets, in an attempt to increase the revenue of the local farming community.
HISTORY OF THE REGION
Colonization of the Chapada Diamantina – the county of Rio de Contas is situatedin the south of this mountainous region – started in 1681, when the colonial authorities distributed the “sesmarias” (land donated by the Portuguese crown) along the rivers Jaquaribe, Paraguaçu (areas of Maracás and Orobó) and the river Rio de Contas up to Barra do Sincorá. Around 1690, travellers from inland Goias and Northern Minas Gerais going to coastal Salvador (the colony’s capital until 1763), founded a settlement at the foot of the Serra das Almas, alongside the river Rio de Contas Pequeno (actual Brumado River). There, they dedicated a chapel to Our Lady of Santana. This first settlement, known as Arraial dos Creoulos (today the city of Rio de Contas), was soon to be visited by the “bandeirantes” (amongst them the famous Sebastião Raposo Tavares), pioneers from São Paulo in search of gold.
These bandeirantes established the first “freguesia” (former colonial parish) called Freguesia deSanto Antônio de Mato Grosso, today the village of Mato Grosso, at a distance of 18 km from Rio de Contas city.In 1724, the Portuguese crown founded the vila (former colonial administrative subdivision, inferior to city) of Nossa Senhora do Livramento de Minas do Rio de Contas (actual city of Livramento, 9 km from Rio de Contas), in order to control the gold rush.
Due to health problems, the vila was transferred to the mountainous plateau of Arraial dos Creoulos and its name was changed into Vila Nova da Nossa Senhora do Livramento de Minas do Rio de Contas. This happened in 1745, the same year that the parish moved from Mato Grosso to the new vila. Its territorywas immense. It included the entire region known today as Chapada Diamantina, the entire Alto Sertão Bahiano (former Sertão de Cima), nearly the entire basinof the Rio de Contas Grande (today river Rio de Contas) and part of the basin of the Rio São Francisco. In 1885, through Provincial Resolution n° 2544, the Vila Nova was elevated to thestatus of city and its name was simplified to Rio de Contas
TOURISM IN RIO DE CONTAS
Rio de Contas is trying to improve its economical growth through culture and ecology tourism. The city’s historical centre is one of the best preserved in the state of Bahia. Its Archives contain documents that are over 200 years old. Its inhabitants are very hospitable.The Guia Brasil 2003 (main publication of the Guias 4 Rodas, an important Brazilian guidebook) awarded the county of Rio de Contas with the “Prêmio Especial Conservação do Patrimônio” for the preservation of its historical heritage.
Nature around Rio de Contas has also a lot to offer to the tourist. This southern part of the Chapada Diamantina possesses the highest peaks of North-easternBrazil: the Pico das Almas 1950 m above sea level, the Itobira with its 1970 m and the Barbado, 2033 m high (6669,9 feet - this last peak lies within a nature reserve called APA Barbado). Due to climate variations in its mountains and valleys, the county of Rio de Contas shows one of the world’s most bio - diverse flora. Extensive research has been done and is being done by botanists from all over the world, the famous KewGardens in Reading (near London) included. There’s an abundance of different species of orchids.
Where to stay in Rio de Contas
Pousada Rio de Contas
2 suites and 11 apartments, swimming-pool. PhoneFax +55 (077) 3475-2090
San Felipo Hotel
31 apartments and 5 suites, swimming-pool,
Phone +55 (077) 3475-2025
Pousada Pérola do Rio
Phone +55 (077) 3475-2191
14 chalets and 7 apartments, swimming-pool, camping area.
PhoneFax +55 (077) 3475- 2111,
8 apartments e 6 bedrooms.
Phone +55 (077) 3475-2091
2 apartments and 4 bedrooms.
Phone +55 (077) 3475-2188
Pousada dos Eucaliptos
Phone +55 (077) 3475-2055
Pouso dos Creoulos - Tourism Agency
PhoneFax: +55 (077) 3475-2018
24-hour Bank of Brasil