Hardly anyone does not know the colorful and modern images of the “Agro é pop” campaign, broadcast on the web Globe since 2016 and that convey an idea of agribusiness as the engine of the country: the “wealth of Brazil”.
In contrast to the narrative that seeks to build this consensus, the study is published this Thursday (21) Agro is not tech, Agro is not pop and much less everything, of the Brazilian Association of Agrarian Reform (Abra) in partnership with FES Brasil.
Authors Marco Antônio Mitidiero Júnior and Yamila Goldfarb demonstrate that agribusiness not only does not bring food to the Brazilian population – which only sees an alarming increase in hunger.
On the contrary: according to the survey, the sector fosters inequality, which means that currently 55% of the population is not sure if they will have enough to eat the next day.
The launch of the document takes place with a live debate between authors and guests, broadcast by FES Brasil’s Youtube on Thursday (21) at 7:30 pm.
:: Why farmers and researchers argue that agroecology can solve hunger in Brazil ::
Based on the analysis of trade balance, GDP and IBGE data, the survey shows that agriculture contributes little to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), brings high costs to the State, generates few jobs and is largely responsible for environmental devastation .
To understand the main arguments presented that “agriculture is not everything”, the Brazil in fact spoke with geographer Marco Mitidiero, co-author of the study and professor at the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB).
Brasil de Fato: The name of the study you have just launched is a reference and contrast to the marketing that portrays agribusiness as fundamental for Brazilian society. What are the main arguments raised in the study that reveal a reality different from that portrayed in advertising?
Marco Antônio Mitidiero Jr.: The analysis shows us that, although agribusiness is the sector of the economy that exports the most, it leads Brazil to what we are calling the reprimarization of the economy.
In other words, an economy based on producing raw materials and importing industrialized products. And although it is a global fact, Brazil appears as one of the five countries that suffer the greatest deindustrialization process. This points us to an interpretation, which is the subordinate insertion of Brazil in the world market.
The second point was to think about the production of wealth, we analyzed the GDP data, divided into three sectors of the economy: agriculture, industry and commerce. IBGE data [Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística] show that agribusiness is the one that contributes least to the production of wealth. The average participation of agribusiness in the national wealth is 5%.
And the issue of credits to the sector, renegotiation and forgiveness of debts and low tax revenue?
And the third point: agribusiness costs the State a lot. The Brazilian State is responsible for the largest amount of credits made available to agriculture and livestock. Agriculture receives a lot of money while peasant or family agriculture receives little public funding.
Then we went to see how much he gives us back. The study pointed out that agribusiness practically does not pay tax. So it’s no wonder that everyone is exporting while there is a lack of food in Brazil.
:: Webserie shows the transformation of the Tapajós River into a commodity export corridor ::
Another point: income and employment generation. We went to IBGE data. The ones who generate the fewest jobs with a formal contract and have the lowest salary are agriculture and cattle raising. So the agricultural discourse that generates employment and income is a fallacy.
During the pandemic, agro did not stop: it broke production records. And agricultural unemployment continued to rise.
Finally, we went to the environmental impact, which was not the focus of the study, but which should appear.
At this moment when the whole world is discussing climate impacts, concerns about the water crisis and this new cinematographic thing of the last 20 days: the sand clouds! We show that agribusiness is indeed allied with environmental devastation.
A recent study by PenSSAN Network points out that about 20 million people in Brazil today are really without anything to eat and, while we see this growing hunger curve in the context of unemployment and pandemic, the data point out that agribusiness in Brazil has prospered. What does this tell us?
The production of hunger by this sector was laid bare. The king is naked. Agribusiness, with its narrative, does not fool anyone anymore: the population is starving! There is no rice, no beans, no meat. Now there is no egg. At the beginning of the hunger lines, we saw Brazilians queuing up because a butcher from Cuiabá was donating bones. Now we are looking in line to buy bones.
Agribusiness is, therefore, nothing more and nothing less than a business. Agribusiness is not concerned with feeding the population anywhere on the planet.
If agribusiness is not the engine of the country, nor the way for everyone to sleep with the certainty that they will be able to eat the next day, then what are the paths that you consider interesting to fight hunger in Brazil?
Agrarian reform is, without a doubt, the main public policy that the Brazilian State should adopt for the production of food for its population.
Another issue that comes from the Temer government and now in the Bolsonaro government, we have practically decreed burial, are public policies to support small rural producers. They need to be taken up again.
Perhaps our study reveals, and I take this opportunity to say that this is not the case, an idea that it was enough for agribusiness to produce for its population, that it was enough for us to bet on industrialization. That’s not the idea, but thinking about another world.
What we did in the text was to play the role of devil’s advocate: even from the point of view of capitalism, agribusiness is bad business.
Edition: Leandro Melito