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From Landless to Farmer in Brazil

The government of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva remains committed to its land reform target of settling 400,000 families during its first term of office, says the president of the Land Reform Institute (Incra), Rolf Hackbart.

According to Hackbart, so far 115,000 families have gotten land and another 44,000 families are scheduled to be settled at the beginning of next year.


As for funding, Hackbart says that so far US$ 219 million (600 million reais) have been spent on land reform and that an additional, suplementary, budget of US$ 73 million (200 million reais) is scheduled to be released before the end of the year.


Speaking to newly-elected mayors from the state of São Paulo, Hackbart declared that the government is committed to quality settlements.


He pointed out that out of a total of 5,000 Incra land reform settlements, 83 are in terrible shape with regard to infrastructure.


Hard Road


In Brazil, July 25 used to be “Settler’s Day” (Dia do Colono). A settler is someone who works a small homestead that was given to him by the government, or is just a worker on a big farm.


However, beginning in the mid 1990s, settlers who owned their own plot of land began to perceive that they were really small farmers and that their interests and problems were different from those of large landowners, or the agrobusiness sector.


At that time a movement known as “Cries For Land” (Gritos da Terra) began growing. The movement demanded more attention for small farmers, especially family farming.


The results can be seen by anyone. There is now a Ministry of Agrarian Development and there is also a National Family Farm Program (Pronaf).


And July 25 is no longer Settler’s Day, it is now Farmer and Family Farming Day.


“‘Settler’ is a pejorative term, in our opinion. Most people see a settler as someone who is uncouth and backward,” explains Altemir Tortelli, who leads the Federation of Family Farm Workers in the South Region (Fetraf-Sul), one of the biggest organizations of its kind in the country.


Small farmers and family farming in Brazil account for 84% of all activity in the agricultural sector, with an estimated 4.1 million farms where 8 out of every 10 rural worker has a job.


Almost 40% of Brazil’s agricultural sector GDP comes from family farming, a total of some 57 billion reais annually. They produce 70% of the beans Brazilians eat, 58% of the pork, 54% of the dairy products, 49% of the corn and 40% of the poultry and eggs.


Agência Brasil

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