Brazil has 6 million young people, 18-24 years old, working in the countryside. 1.8 million of them are illiterate, and 30% earn less than a fourth of a minimum wage (US$ 24) each month.
These data come from the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea). For lack of opportunity, these young people have no alternative except to migrate from the countryside to the cities.
According to the coordinator of the Ministry of Agrarian Development’s Policies for Youth, Fabiano Kempfer, the federal government created two programs aimed specifically at young people, to combat rural exodus.
The first is called Social Consortia for Rural Youth, which prepares young people to enter the job market. They receive training for four months in production techniques for beans, rice, corn, manioc flour, and wheat.
In return, they receive a monthly stipend of US$ 59 (R$ 150) and devote six hours a week to community service in unions or cooperatives, passing along to the local community a little of what they have learned.
Finally, each must formulate his (her) own production project, in the area in which he (she) wants to work.
Training, however, is not enough. Investment is also necessary. That is why the second program was created.
Our First Land is a credit line at lower interest rates. Young people can borrow up to US$ 14,600 (40,000 reais) to buy land and US$ 3.200 (9,000 reais) to prepare the soil.
“These are programs for country people to establish roots; they are tools and guarantees the government gives farmers who want to remain farmers. They can acquire their own land,” Kempfer explained.
The Our First Land program is already benefitting 800 young agricultural producers.
The federal government has earmarked US$ 3.6 million (10 million reais) for the Social Consortia for Rural Youth in 2005.
Translation: David Silberstein