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Geraizeira communities against land enclosure through Fazenda Estrondo, Bahia, Brazil

In the southern Cerrado, where industrial agricultural expansion clashes with traditional communities, the mega-farm Estrondo has taken over land of the geraizeiros and converted the savannah ecosystem into cash-crop monocultures.


Fazenda Estrondo is an agricultural complex located in Formosa do Rio Preto, one of Brazil’s major municipalities for soy production, in the west of Bahia. It gained notoriety for supposed land grabbing and incidences of labor exploitation and illegal deforestation. With 24 farms producing soy, corn and cotton, which partly became embargoed, the Estrondo consortium today claims an area of 305,000 hectares and has attempted to further expand onto community land. This jeopardizes the savannah ecosystem and the livelihoods of geraizeiros, a group that since the 19th century has inhabited river valleys in the north of Minas Gerais and the west of Bahia – a transition zone between the Cerrado and the Caatinga biomes. They traditionally live from subsistence farming (e.g. beans, corn, manioc), cattle raising, and the gathering of fruits and plants on communally shared public land. Their way of life is interdependent with the preservation of the natural environment and hence stands in stark contrast to the logic of industrial agriculture, mono-cropping and private property [1][2][3][4][5].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Geraizeira communities against land enclosure through Fazenda Estrondo, Bahia, Brazil
State or province:Bahia
Location of conflict:Formosa do Rio Preto
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Estrondo is administrated by the companies Delfim Crédito Imobiliário S/A, Colina Paulista S/A and Companhia Melhoramentos do Oeste da Bahia (CMOB), all controlled by the family of businessman Ronald Guimarães Levinsohn. [1][14] Given the huge area of Estrondo, the management is divided in different farms, typically between 7,000 and 10,000 hectares each. Among others, soy, cotton, corn and cattle are produced by currently 22 companies. [4][9] Also transnational companies such as Bunge, Cargill and ADM were reported to buy commodities from Estrondo and export these primarily to China and the European Union, but have publicly stated that they do not buy from areas under embargo. [1][5] The contracted security company is Estrela Guia [9].

Project area:305,000 ha
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:400 - 1,000
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises: Delfim Crédito Imobiliário S/A from Brazil
Colina Paulista S/A from Brazil
Companhia Melhoramentos do Oeste da Bahia (CMOB) from Brazil
Bunge from United States of America
Cargill from United States of America
Estrela Guia from Brazil
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associação Geraizeira da Comunidade de Cachoeira
Associação de Advogados/as de Trabalhadores/as Rurais da Bahia (AATR-BA)
Repórter Brasil
Greenpeace Brasil
Mighty Earth
Comitê Brasileiro de Defensoras e Defensores de Direitos Humanos
Comitê de Bacia Hidrográfica do Rio Grande
Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) – Bahia
Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais de Formosa do Rio Preto – BA
Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais de São Desiderio – BA
Movimento de Atingidos por Barragens (MAB)
Instituto População, Sociedade e Natureza (ISPN)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Geraizeiros of Vale do Rio Preto
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Fires, Genetic contamination, Global warming, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Communities demand access to the land that was traditionally in customary use. They insist on their right to self-determination over their land and way of life, as guaranteed by ILO Convention 169 and the Brazilian Constitution. The consider the land to be public and demand free communal access to pastures and grassland [3][7]. In light of the expansion of agribusiness in the MATOPIBA region, experts such as Valney Rigonato of Federal University of Western Bahia (UFOB) also highlight the role of traditional communities in the preservation of the natural Cerrado ecosystem [2].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The geraizeira communities have received acknowledgment and land rights, but these are still not enforced. Since the court ruling the conflict has further intensified.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[5] Greenpeace (2019): Countdown to Extinction. Available at:
[click to view]

[6] Greenpeace (2019): Cultivando violência. Available at:
[click to view]

[1] Sax, S., Angelo, M. (2020): Communities in Brazilian Cerrado besieged by global demand for soy. Mongabay, 13.01.2020. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[2] Prager, A., Milhorance, F. (2018): Cerrado: Traditional communities accuse agribusiness of ‘green land grabbing’. Mongabay, 22.03.2018. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[3] Terra de Direitos (2019): “Estamos encurralados, eles têm armas”, dizem geraizeiros/as no oeste da Bahia. 02.10.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[4] Reimberg, M. (2009): Fazenda Estrondo coleciona crimes trabalhistas e ambientais. Repórter Brasil, 26.11.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[7] Lazzeri, T. (2017): Estrondo: a imposição da força do agronegócio na Bahia. Repórter Brasil, 16.02.2017. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[8] ISPN (2019): Um dos maiores casos de grilagem do Brasil é tema de Audiência Pública. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[9] Oliveira, R. (2019): A megafazenda que ameaça descendentes de Canudos equivale a duas São Paulo. A Pública, 15.09.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[10] Angelo, M. (2019): Investigação revela esquema de corrupção entre juízes e ruralistas no oeste da Bahia. 25.11.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[11] CPT (2019): Pistoleiros da Fazenda Estrondo abrem fogo contra Geraizeiros em Formosa do Rio Preto (BA). 04.02.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[12] Milhorance, F. (2018): Cerrado: traditional communities win back land from agribusiness firm. Mongabay, 05.07.2018. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[14] CPT (2019): No oeste da Bahia, Geraizeiros garantem permanência em território tradicional. Comissão Pastoral da Terra, 18.02.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[15] Milhorance, F. (2019): Video: Cerrado farmer shot amid escalating conflict with agribusiness. Mongabay, 21.02.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[16] Pires, J. (2019): Empresa de segurança da fazenda Estrondo ‘prende’ pela segunda vez presidente de associação comunitária dos geraizeiros de Formosa do Rio Preto (BA). Jornal GGN, 11.04.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[17] Terra de Direitos (2019): Organizações denunciam novo ataque da Fazenda Cachoeira do Estrondo às comunidades geraizeiras (BA). 21.08.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[19] Mota, J. (2018): Geraizeiros do Vale Das Cancelas. Repórter Brasil, 27.01.2018. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[20] Eichler, J., Ferraz, N. (2019): Geraizeiros: uma história de luta pelo Cerrado brasileiro. UnB Planaltina, 27.11.2019. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

[21] Motoki, C. (2018): O levante das comunidades tradicionais. Repórter Brasil, 27.01.2018. [Online, last accessed: 15.07.2020]
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[13] “A Fazenda Estrondo Abre Fogo Contra Mulheres e Crianças na Bahia” (Video, Youtube, 29.11.2014)
[click to view]

10envolvimento (2017): "Gerações Geraizeiras" (Video, Youtube, 11.05.2017)
[click to view]

Other documents

In 2019, the Justice Tribunal of Bahia confirmed geraizeira customary land rights Source: AATR-BA (facebook)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Max Stoisser
Last update31/08/2020
Conflict ID:5094
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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