Mon. May 16th, 2022
Agricultural Power, Waning Industry Dictate Brazil's Future — Global Issues
Brazil has become the world’s leading exporter of beef in recent years. It has more cattle than its 214 million human inhabitants. But this leads to serious environmental damage: deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, as cattle drive the illegal appropriation and possession of deforested public lands. CREDIT: Mario Osava/IPS
Brazil has become the world’s leading exporter of beef in recent years. Brazil has more cattle than the 214 million people it hosts. This leads to severe environmental damage, such as deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Cattle drive the illegal appropriation of public lands that have been deforested. CREDIT: Mario Osava/IPS
  • by Mario Osava (rio de janeiro)
  • Inter Press Service

It can however do this by bringing in foreign currency with large exports, and so create macroeconomic conditions that support pro-poor social policy, says Carlos Guanziroli. He is a professor at The University of California, Berkeley. Fluminense Federal University.

Brazil was once a major food importer. In 1980, Brazil produced only 50 million tonnes of grains. The economist pointed out that the harvest tripled in 30 years and reached over 250 million tonnes by 2020.

The fivefold increase in the harvest in 40 years was due to a strong growth in productivity, since the sown area expanded by only 60 percent, from 40 to 64 million hectares, according to the Agriculture Ministry’s National Supply Company.

The country became the world’s largest producer and exporter of soybeans, meat, sugar, orange juice and, long before that, coffee. The country’s agribusiness exports surpassed 120.6 billion dollars in 2021, and led to a sectoral surplus totaling 105.1 billion dollars. This more than offsets the industrial deficit.

Economic cycles

Brazil was able to achieve this level of agricultural strength despite the many political, economic and demographic upheavals that have occurred in the country in the last 100 years.

The 20th century industrialization drive, which picked up speed after World War II and continued until the 1980s, was apparently set to give rise to a new industrial powerhouse, the “Great Brazil” announced by the 1964-1985 military dictatorship’s propaganda.

Industry slowed down in the 1980s as its share of GDP declined. However, agriculture grew.

Promotion policies helped a neglected sector, the family farm, to gain a stronger identity in the 1990s. Guanziroli, a researcher at United Nations. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)This process was made possible by the contributions of.

The population grew faster due to industrialization. In 1950, only 36 percent of Brazilians were living in cities. According to data from The, the proportion had risen to 67 per cent by 1980. It was 84 percent in 2010, the last national census. Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)This puts Brazil’s current population at 214 millions.

This means that the trend towards urbanization was maintained during the subsequent cycle of industrial stagnation and strong agricultural expansion. Massive rural exodus is due to mechanization, intensive monocultures, and high concentrations of land ownership.

Guanziroli stated that agriculture includes a wide range of companies, including those who make tractors, harvesters, and other machinery as well as chemical inputs, packaging, and activities like transportation and other services.

He stated, in an interview with IPS Rio de Janeiro: “This chain accounts 22 percent GDP and 28 percent all jobs” in Brazil.

Family farming

According to IBGE’s 2017 agricultural census, Brazil’s family agriculture sector, which includes 3.9 million farms and more than 10,000,000 workers, will see major economic and social benefits from the government’s policies.

“It is more labor-intensive and responds to trends towards local consumption and organic production, which are more evident in developed countries, especially in Europe,” said Rafael Cagnin, an economist at the Institute for Industrial Development StudiesSector-sponsored promotion of.

Family farming not only provides employment for potential employees and families, but also increases food security and the local economy.

Guanziroli stated that the activity is defined by the amount of property and the product it produces. However, the predominance or family labor must be the dominant factor, which cannot be exceeded by hired workers.

Research on the subject was a hot topic in the 1990s. He stated that researchers tried to avoid simplifying the matter by proposing studies and proposals.

Guanziroli explained that there is a widespread misconception that family farming is responsible to 70 percent of Brazil’s food production. Guanziroli clarified that the statement is true for beans and cassava but not for food production in general.

He stated, “This is a lying used for political purposes that affects dialogues and public policies. It is rhetoric that isn’t based upon serious evidence.”

According to IBGE census data, studies estimated that family farms made up 38 percent of total agricultural production in 1996 and 36 per cent in 2006. In 2017 the proportion dropped to 28 percent because of a prolonged drought that began in 2012 in the semi-arid Northeast region, which concentrates almost half of the country’s family farms.

Long-range policies

IBGE statistics were a huge help in Brazil’s recognition of family farming and its clear definition. This is a feature that is often lacking in other countries.

Guanziroli said that there are obstacles to studies and proposals on the subject, due to “ideological problems and the antagonism against agribusiness which have worn the issue down”.

He said, “The idea was clearly to define family farming in an effort to promote projects or policies such as credit.” It is an activity that is integrated into the agricultural business and the inputs.

The researcher considers the past 30 years’ balance positive, despite everything. “Family farming is now consolidated. It has irreversible strategies that give it a solid foundation,” he stated.

The greatest example of this is National Program for the Strengthening of Family Agriculture (Pronaf)1995 created the, which continues to guarantee credit with low interest rates, and favorable payment terms. Even the far-right government of today, which is hostile to peasant farmers has not tried to end the program.

The most important thing is technical assistance. “It never reached family farmers during those 30 years.” Guanziroli said that they tried many formulas, old institutions and non-governmental organizations but were unable mobilize agronomists.

Agriculture and industry

He believes Brazil’s competitiveness is in agriculture. He said that Brazil’s industry has fallen behind and it is hard to compete with Asia. While some services like digital platforms can be an option, they require long-term education efforts, which Brazil is not doing well in.

But Cagnin told IPS from São Paulo that “Resuming Brazil’s economic and social development does not seem possible without progress in industry, following the example of other countries, especially the more complex ones.”

He said that this sector “generates, disseminates, the most innovative in a capitalist economic, the one which builds bridges among other activities, adds to the value of agricultural or mineral products, and promotes higher-end services.”

The economist who is a specialist in industrial development recognizes that Brazil’s political problems and educational weaknesses hinder progress in the midst “technological transforms”, productive reorganization or new labor relations.

However, industry is essential because of the numerous risks facing the “agriculture” of the future, such as the climate crisis and changes in consumption. He also noted that there are many directions the large Chinese market might take.

All evidence points to the wisdom in not restricting the economy to just a few export products as Brazil is doing. He also suggested that it was wise to seek “synergies” between agriculture and industry, rather than excluding other sectors.

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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