General Director of FAO visits the MST agrarian reform store in Porto Alegre

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

FAO directorWhile visiting the MST Agrarian Reform  Store in the public market of Porto Allegre (RS), Jose Graziano da Silva, General Director of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) saw the successful products derived from settlements for agrarian reform and family farming.

 Amid the more than 250 products sold by the store - consisting mostly of organic products - Emerson Giacomelli, president of the Cooperative Central Settlements of Rio Grande do Sul (Coceargs), explained the functioning and capacity of the agricultural sector.

 "This store is a place to centralize the marketing and dissemination of produce from the settlements. It demonstrates the results of the social struggle, and provides integration between producer and consumer by making the relationship with society in general" said Emerson.

 A wide variety of grains, fruits, herbs, vegetables, preserves and wine are sold at the agrarian reform store. However, these are only some of the products available at the store where settlement families are supplying their wares.

 For Silvio Porto, Director of Agricultural Policy of the National Supply Company (Conab), the importance of the store is to show people that land reform is indeed crucial for the development of the country.

 "The production of family farming and agrarian reform creates spaces for social inclusion, a relationship with nature in a much more sustainable way. In polyculture, the possibility of diversification in production is always present. Agribusiness may be relevant for the country in terms of the balance of trade, but this model has brought many problems for the country, such as the reduction of manual labor employed and the use of pesticides - making us the largest consumers of agricultural poisons on the planet. There is something disastrous within the current macro-model, from a social, environmental and economic perspective because it requires high production costs," he said. "Agrarian reform is a matter still present and is of fundamental importance for  the country."

 Seeking Experience

 The Deputy Minister of Agricultural Rural Development in Bolivia, Victor Hugo Vasquez, also visited the store to hear the experiences of the MST in order to share them with family farmers in his country. "Reaching this level of production and marketing is a great achievement for the movement," he said.

 The food sold at the store embodies the process by which value is added to products, since most of the food comes from businesses owned by the settlements themselves. Adding value to products through agro-industries, allows a further development of rural areas, so that income is stabilized in the countryside - without the involvement of corporations - generating jobs, especially for local youth and enabling the existence of a countryside with people, relieving overpopulated urban centers.

 "I am confident that agriculture is the future. The farmer has to stop being just a good producer. He has to take over the entire production process. Here is a perfect model of agriculture that we want for Brazil and the world, "said Ivar Pavan, State Secretary of Rural Development, Fisheries and Cooperatives of the Government of Rio Grande do Sul.

 For Pavan, Agrarian Reform has an important role in the process of eradicating hunger and poverty. "Land is the basic input to address the issue of hunger. Family farming has its own characteristic food production. Placing the land in the hands of those who produce food should be the goal of any government" he laments as it has not yet become reality as public policy.

Even though agribusiness has the hegemony of the production model, it is a dispute that is not yet finished. "The market doesn’t think about the social interest or the environment, it thinks only of profit. But there are consequences: global warming, more than 1 billion hungry people in the world. This is all a result of the agribusiness model. Society has to realize it needs to change, "he says.