Brazil Keeps Dragging Its Feet on Updating Productivity Indices

The expected update of Brazil’s Land Productivity Indices, used to identify land that is unproductive and available for the purposes of Agrarian Reform, has been delayed once again.

The Brazilian Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rosseto, announced now that the actual updating will take place in February of this year.

The Lula government had promised to update these indices at the beginning of its first mandate, in 2003, yet to this day the update has not been finalized. Last year, for example, Minister Rosseto stated he would delay the update only until October of 2005.

Though the National Constitution requires an update of the indices every 10 years, the last modification took place in 1976. According to José Juliano de Carvalho Filho, retired Economics and Administration Professor at the University of São Paulo (FEA/USP) and member of the National Association for Agrarian Reform (ABRA), "the indices are fundamental because they allow for the identification of lands to be used for land reform. This is something that the government promised several times already".

Updating of the indices is under negotiations between the Minister of Agrarian Development and the Minister of Agriculture. Professor Carvalho Filho agrees with the position of the social movements, that a lack of political will is the only thing that has held back the update for over 20 years.

"I think this delay is absurd. It demonstrates a total lack of commitment on the part of the government in implementing anything that might even resemble Agrarian Reform. Instead we are seeing only settlement projects that are the result of the social movement’s pressures, without which we probably would have seen nothing," stated José Juliano.

The MST (Landless Movement) estimates that once the indices are updated, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul alone (one of Brazil’s smaller states) 40,000 hectares of land will be identified as unproductive, making them automatically available for land reform. These lands could then become the sites for food production for the entire nation.

MST – www.mst.org.br

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