The increase in unemployment and hunger in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the greater concern about climate change, the rise in the price of staple foods and the impact of the stoppage of truck drivers in 2018 are some of the recent episodes that have crossed the life of millions of people in Brazil.
It is in this context of urgent debates and actions in relation to food insecurity that the Brazilian Association for Agrarian Reform (ABRA), in partnership with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Brasil (FES Brasil) launches, this Thursday (16) the article “Challenges for Supply and Food Sovereignty in Brazil”.
::Brazil has 125.6 million food insecure people in the pandemic::
Based on the analysis of supply policies and the fight against hunger in Brazil, the authors of the study – André Luzzi de Campos and Yamila Goldfarb – propose an articulation between countryside, forest, water and cities to advance the sustainable development of communities and territories in the country . The survey will be launched at 7:30 pm on Thursday (16) and will be broadcast live on FES Brasil’s Youtube channel.
In addition to the authors, the debate will include guests Silvio Isoppo Porto, professor at the Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia and former director of the National Supply Company (Conab), and Beto Palmeira, member of the National Coordination of the Small Farmers Movement (MPA ).
Food insecurity in Brazil
More than half of the Brazilian population (116.8 million people) currently live in a situation of food insecurity. Of these, 43.4 million did not have enough food and 19 million were starving. The data were released by the Brazilian Network for Research on Sovereignty and Food Security (PENSSAN Network) in 2020 and are taken up in the recently published article. The launch is part of the activities that mark the World Food Sovereignty Day, celebrated on October 16th.
In 2017, occupying an area of 80.9 million hectares, family farming represented 77% of Brazilian rural establishments. Even with a small area, representing 23% of the total, it is responsible for most of the food consumed by the Brazilian population and for 67% of the workforce employed in agriculture.
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“It is these people who guarantee the country’s food and nutrition security”, highlights the study, “despite the lack of investments, lack of guarantee of rights such as access to land, water, lack of specialized technical assistance and lack of both productive and marketing infrastructure”.
Making a historical analysis, Campos and Goldfarb demonstrate how family farming has been the target of budget cuts, increased bureaucracy to access benefits and, with the Bolsonaro government, the paralysis of agrarian reform. While wholesale markets such as CEAGESP or CEASA are still important in determining food prices, the scrapping of this equipment has increasingly left the supply of fresh products in the hands of large distributors.
“Still in the midst of this situation, with records of growth of more than 100% in the prices of the main foods in the Brazilian basic food basket”, the researchers emphasize, “the Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina, said that the government would not do any type of intervention in the price control of items such as rice, beans, milk, meat and soy oil”.
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Articulation of civil society and social movements
Despite the historical difficulties, it is the experiences of community articulations, intensified in pandemic times, that reveal important clues to achieving food sovereignty.
“Social movements and civil society responded quickly to the social and health crisis, creating actions to combat hunger and encourage the constitution of popular supply networks”, the study finds.
Among the examples mentioned are the technical assistance actions for peasants inspired by the methodology systematized by the National Association of Small Farmers of Cuba (ANAP). The initiatives developed in the municipalities of Araraquara (SP) and Florianópolis (SC) to create a legal framework for food purchase programs from family farming are also mentioned.
Propositions to achieve food sovereignty
The Emergency Platform for the Field, Forests and Waters in Defense of Life and for Fighting Hunger in the Face of the Coronavirus Pandemic is highlighted in the study as one of the civil society initiatives with proposals to face the social and health crisis.
The end of the spending ceiling PEC, the maintenance of emergency aid, support for family farming, maintenance of school meals and food assistance are some of their demands. After much pressure, social movements managed to release R$500 million for the purchase of food from family farmers and cooperatives in the sector.
The article proposes, among other measures aimed at Brazilian food sovereignty, the creation of agroecological belts, short commercialization circuits in urban areas, the resumption of sovereign control by farmers throughout the production chain, the inclusion of food from agriculture family in social programs and school feeding and the reduction of the distance between producers and consumers, focusing on territorial systems.
The research is part of the Rural Brazil Series, an initiative of ABRA and FES Brasil that, since July, has debated the agrarian issue in the country. Until November, one text per month will be released with live debate on the subject.
Edition: Vinícius Segalla