[4/20/05] MST Update #88: Productivity Indices, Carajas Demo, Chafik Freed, MST Grows Herbal Medicine

*The MST distributes biweekly updates that FMST-US volunteers translate and make available. Please read the latest below.*

MST Update #88 from April 20, 2005 includes:

1) FEATURE: "On the Indices of Productivity"

2) Demonstration in Carajás Attracts 10,000
3) Confessed Guilty, Chafik is Freed by Authorities
4) Settlement Invests in the Production of Herbal Medicines in Paraná

1) On the Indices of Productivity

Dear friends of the MST,

In this edition we share with you the text of Plinio Arruda Sampaio, president of ABRA (Brazilian Association of Agrarian Reform) and member of the team that developed the National Plan of Agrarian Reform which was given to the government in 2003.

“The Federal Constitution determines that unproductive properties may be condemned for the purposes of Agrarian Reform. From this arises the question: What exactly are unproductive properties?

The law surrounding the subject considers property unproductive if it does not profitably utilize its land. This classification must be made by a professional by means of an inspection.

In the inspections the inspector first verifies the extent to which the land is being effectively developed in the property; after that he compares the production obtained by the various sources of cultivation and of cattle production on the inspected property, taking into consideration data of the median income of Brazilian plantations in relation to the same products. A property that utilizes a very small part of its lands or whose income is below the median is classified as unproductive and, therefore, can be condemned for the constitution of registration of Agrarian Reform.

The table containing the indicators of income and cattle productivity was made in the 1970s. Since then Brazilian agriculture has been modernized and become much more productive. However, the table of indicators has not been modified, and this allows plantations which have already overexploited their properties’ productivity to escape being classified as unproductive.

In Paraná only 8 of 148 property inspections resulted in the property being classified as unproductive. With new indices the result would obviously be much higher.

The outdated indicators lead to delays in the condemnation process and cause owners who fail inspections to dispute the condemnation laws with the government. This raises the stakes for the process of Agrarian Reform and does what it can to render the process slower overall.

In 1999 the Minister of Agrarian Reform carried out studies in order to update the indicators of income (or, “indices of productivity,