Matheus Ladeia, a mechanical engineering student at Universidade Salvador, experienced firsthand the effects of the devastating drought in northeastern Brazil in 2012 and 2013. His father, a longtime farmer, estimates that due to deaths of animals, he lost approximately $60,000 USD. And he was not the only one with such losses.
Matheus observed that farms relatively close to his father’s, and to those of other farmers struggling to find places to pasture their animals, had unused natural pastures that were unaffected by the drought. There was only one problem.
“In order to do big things, you must have big dreams.”
“Because of a lack of information and communication, no one could make that connection,” Matheus said. No one knew that fields that could save their animals lay only a few miles away.
Matheus set out to solve this problem, creating the application Pastar (which in Portuguese means “to graze”) with two partners. It is a webbased platform that connects farmers looking for places to pasture their animals with those who have available land, often at no cost to the farmer in need. It has expanded to include connecting farmers who might be in desperate need of a new animal with those looking to sell. In just 12 months, Pastar has provided a platform for transactions valued at close to $3 million and has saved 10,000 animals. Over 600 farmers have directly used the application.
With the help of a business incubator at Universidade Salvador, Matheus and his partners received invaluable business training and support that helped them grow the application. The local government is showing an interest in partnering with the group to expand the model to make it more broadly available.
“If we can save just one animal, then the project has done its job,” Matheus said. “But we won’t stop there.” He says that he feels a responsibility to his community, feels this is deeply gratifying work, and strongly believes there is still much to be done.
“My goal is that no animal would die, anywhere in the world, because of a lack of information,” he said. He hopes to continue finding ways to centralize information, and dreams of taking his application to other countries, even other continents.
“I know that this is a big dream,” Matheus said. “But in order to do big things, you must have big dreams.”
Matheus Ladeia is on his way to accomplishing the lofty goals he sets for himself, and it doesn’t seem as if he plans on stopping anytime soon.