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Catende Sugarcane Factory

From 1922 to 1993 the Catende factory changed its corporate name to Industrial Company of the Brazilian Northeast – Our Lady of Fatima Sugarcane Factoy.

Catende Sugarcane Factory

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Last update: 26/09/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

It is located in the municipality of Catende, on the left bank of the Pirangi River, at an altitude of 153 metres.

Founded in 1890, with the name Correia da Silva factory, in honour of the State’s vice-governor at the time, it was originally built by the Englishman Carlos Sinden and his father-in-law Felipe Paes de Oliveira. This name, however, was never recognised, and the factory was always called ‘Catende’.

In 1892, it became Catende sugarcane factory, built on the former Milagre da Conceição (Miracle of the Conception) plantation founded in 1829.

The factory was not a success, being handed over to creditors, among them the Bank of Pernambuco. There were various attempts at production without results, until 1907, when it was acquired by the firm Mendes Lima & Co., who reformed it (1912), increasing its milling capacity from 200 to 1000 tonnes daily.

The owners, however, were businessmen and not industrialists. They were interested in selling the sugar and not in producing it. The factory was sold again, this time to the firm Costa, Oliveira & Co.

With the resignation of too many partners in 1927, the factory became under the ownership if Colonel Antônio Ferreira da Costa Azevedo, known by the nickname ‘Seu Tenente’ (Mr Lieutenant), who revolutionised the entire sugarcane producing area in the southeast of Pernambuco with his technical and administrative system serving as an example for various factories in the region.

In 1929, the factory was considered the largest in Brazil in production and capacity. It had 43 fields, 140km of railways, 11 locomotives and 266 wagons.

The transportation of sugarcane and its products was by the Great Western line.

It had the capacity to process 1,500 tonnes of sugarcane and produce 4,000 litres of ethanol in 22 hours. In the milling season, around 700 workers were employed at the factory.

It had a workers’ village with 200 houses, a welfare system, and maintained a school with an annual average attendance of 50 students.

When he died, in 1950, Antônio Ferreira da Costa Azevedo, Mr Lieutenant, left the Catende factory with an industrial capacity to manufacture 1 million sacks of sugar, an anhydrous alcohol distillery (the first in the country), 36 thousand hectares of land, 165km of railways and 82 sugarcane plantations.

His eldest son, João Azevedo, assumed the direction of the factory. Under his management, the Catende factory acquired the Pirangi factory and its ten plantations.

In 1973 the Catende factory was bought by a group formed by Rui Carneiro da Cunha (co-owner of the Massauassu factory), Alfredo Maurício de Lima Fernandes and Mário Pinto Campos. The latter, some years later, sold his share to Inaldo Pereira Guerra, a sugar trader in Recife and cattle raiser in Gravatá.

From 1922 to 1993 the Catende factory changed its corporate name to Companhia Industrial do Nordeste Brasileiro - Usina Nossa Senhora de Fátima (Industrial Company of the Brazilian Northeast – Our Lady of Fatima Sugarcane Factoy).

Recife, 7 August 2003.
(Updated on 9 September 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2012.



sources consulted

ANDRADE, Manuel Correia de. História das usinas de açúcar de Pernambuco. Recife: FJN. Ed. Massangana, 1989. 114 p. (República, v.1)

GONÇALVES & SILVA, O assucar e o algodão em Pernambuco. Recife: [s.n.], 1929. 90 p.

MOURA, Severino. Senhores de engenho e usineiros, a nobreza de Pernambuco. Recife: Fiam, CEHM, Sindaçúcar, 1998. 320 p. (Tempo municipal, 17).


how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Catende Sugarcane Factory. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009