Purchases of bean by the Brazilian federal government in Rondônia, northern Brazil, raised the spirits of family farmers in the state. They were able to sell their entire production for a price better than the what the market was paying.
60-kilogram sacks of beans were sold for US$ 20.60 (60.00 reais), and each farmer could sell up to the equivalent of US$ 858.80 (2,500 reaus).
At the time, middlemen were paying around US$ 15.40 (45.00 reaus) per sack. The government purchases were made by the National Supply company (Conab).
The National Secretary of Food Security, José Baccarin, said that the move helped to regulate the price of the product, which was depressed, and to stimulate production.
“The policy contains the activity of middlemen and ensures small farmers a larger income, without negative effects on consumers in what they pay for the product,” he affirmed.
The government spent US$ 3.4 million (10 million reais) to make the purchases. It was one of the activities of the Food Acquisition Program (PAA), part of the Zero Hunger Program.
The beans will be distributed to communities that face nutritional risks, such as communities formed of descendants of runaway slaves (“quilombos”), agrarian reform encampments, Indians, and victims of dam construction and floods.
The purchase benefitted nearly six thousand small farmers in the state. They formed lines outside warehouses and purchase depots. Trucks, wagons, and tractors loaded with sacks of beans waited as long as 10 days to complete the sale.
But it was worth the wait, according to the farmers. “Because, if we sold to the processors, we would have made next to nothing; it would hardly have paid for the pesticide. But since the government bought [the beans], there will be enough left over to buy a little something.
“If the processors were the only buyers, poor us, there wouldn’t even be enough to pay for the pesticide,” said Erineu Teixeira de Oliveira, a Bahian who has lived in Rondônia for over 20 years.
Jaerce de Oliveira Silva also rejoiced. This year his total production amounted to 480 sacks of beans. Even though he sold only 40 sacks to the government, he praised the initiative, because, according to him, the market price went up.
“If it weren’t for the Conab, we would be selling beans for between US$ 9.60 (28 reais) and US$ 12 (35 reais). For this reason it was worthwhile, because you sell 40 sacks but you get a better price for the rest of your production; otherwise, it would be impossible,” he affirmed.
He said that he wants to buy a new tractor with the extra money, and he promised that he will plant more beans next year.
The purchases of the beans were not commemorated by the farmers alone. Merchants said that their business grew. “It was good, because it contributed to activity in the market,” said Adalto Neves, owner of the Neves Market, in the city of Alto Alegre dos Parecis, Rondônia state.
“This helps commerce, and, when you sell more, logically, the tendency is for the place to get better,” he concluded.
In another municipality, the same opinion was expressed. “After these purchases, business activity in the municipality improved a lot. The farmers are happy, and we, even more so,” said Luiz Henrique Tavares, an employee at the Labor, Administration, and Maintenance Cooperative (Coortral), in Alta Floresta d’Oeste.
Odilan Ferreira, a resident of Alta Floresta, also in Rondônia, worked as a warehouse bagger in July and August, during the period of the purchases.
“It was a lot of work,” he said. He added, however, that he can’t complain, because, if he weren’t “bagging,” he would be without a job.
Reporter: Luciana Vasconcelos
Translator: David Silberstein