Changing conventional agriculture into sustainable models is the goal of the National AgroEcological Program, launched today by the Ministry of Agrarian Development (MDA). The program intends to support ecologically based agriculture to reduce environmental damages and produce healthier food products without the use of pesticides.
Agroecology also prevents the contamination of water sources and the soil.
During the inauguration of the program, the National Secretary of Family Farming, Valter Bianchini, said that this program was the best way to pay homage to the American missionary, Dorothy Stang, murdered Saturday in the state of Pará. Dorothy worked with small farmers setting up projects of sustainable development.
According to the Secretary, US$ 15.9 million (41 million reais) will be spent on research of organic products and the training of technicians and agricultural producers.
In addition, two credit programs of the National Program to Strengthen Family Farming ((Pronaf) will motivate projects aimed at agroecological production.
According to Bianchini, besides the increased desire for more nutritional and healthful products, agroecological production is a more profitable way to grow crops, because one saves expenses on imported chemical products.
Brazil’s organic products include: brown sugar, cereals, chicken, milk, and sugar cane liquor. Brazil’s current production of organic products amounts to 300 thousand tons per year, worth US$ 70 million.
According to information from the Ministry of Agrarian Development, Brazil exports organic goods to Japan, New Zealand, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. 30 thousand farmers produce such goods, but only 15 thousand are registered. 70% of them are family farmers.
“With the National Agroecology Program, we shall provide support to the industrialization and commercialization of these products,,” Bianchini said.
According to Romário Rosseto, who represents the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), the state of Rio Grande do Sul has been experimenting for three years with such products as ecological chicken and ecological milk.
“Milk cows are fed on grass of purely vegetable origin. The agroecological model is sustainable, it provides autonomy to peasant farmers in terms of their input and creates a direct relationship with consumers, producing healthful foodstuffs for Brazilian families,” he said.
Translation: David Silberstein
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