The Kiriri are an indigenous people living in the semi-arid region in northeastern Brazil known as the sertão. Their name means “silent,” but this community has managed to raise its voice and win an important victory, a source of inspiration for many other indigenous peoples fighting for access to land. After battling for 15 years, in 1990 the federal government recognized the rights of the Kiriri to the territory where they had always lived, returning land to them that had been settled by non-native people. This indigenous land is found in the state of Bahia, in the municipality of Banzaê (whose name means “land of the brave”), and a few surrounding municipalities.
The Kiriri traditional diet is based on wild fruits, game and fish, as well as some crops, which are grown together: green beans, known as de rama or ligeirinho, corn and manioc.
The manioc is planted between October and December and harvested between July and August. Manioc flour is produced in processing facilities known as “flour houses” or at home. The grated roots are placed inside large leaves or sacks, which are rolled up and squeezed to remove the water. The resulting paste is taken home by the families and sieved to produce flour. The leftover water is collected in a bucket so that the manioc starch settles at the bottom.
The most common use of the flour is to cook it over a low heat in a pan and eat it with fish or game (like chameleon or peccary), but it is also used to prepare crêpe-like beijus or susú (toasted manioc flour, served with fish or salted pork), while the goma (starch) is used to make biscuits and manioc couscous, often served with grated coconut.
A crisis in traditional manioc processing has developed due to the gradual disappearance of the flour houses and the serious drought that struck the area between 2011 and 2017. The taciturn but tenacious Kiriri have been working on reviving the cultivation of their emblematic crop, which in the future could represent not just a source of sustenance but also an important source of income.
ACIKSAM and IFAD have been working together in the area since 2006, constructing processing facilities and organizing the distribution of manioc seeds to Kiriri families. As well as promoting manioc and manioc products, the Presidium is also committed to facilitating the inclusion of the young Kiriri into the organization of the production system, encouraging their participation and political representation within the community and involving them in the Terra Madre Indigenous network.
Aldeia Marcação Kiriri, Banzaê municipality, Bahia state, Northeast region
Presidium supported by
IFAD – International Fund for Agricultural Development
Associação Comunitária Indígena Kiriri Santo André de Marcação (ACIKSAM)