“We want to overcome hunger and poverty”

By

Claudia Jordan
After four years of the Bolsonaro administration, the new Brazilian government is trying to restart its engagement in agroecology, fighting deforestation in the Amazon and protecting indigenous communities and poor families from hunger. An interview with the Vice-minister for Rural Development and Family Farming, Fernanda Machiaveli.

The fight against deforestation is one of the priorities of the new government of Brazil. ©Mateus Ampos Felipe, Unsplash, 2023

By Fernanda Machiaveli

Fernanda Machiaveli is Vice-Minister at the Ministry of Rural Development and Family Farming of Brazil. In the Government Transition Cabinet, she was part of the Special Advisory team for Technical Groups, the coordination of the WG Center of Government and the advisory of the Council for Social Participation. She is a doctoral candidate in Political Science at the University of São Paulo (USP).

All contributions

With the new government in Brazil, how is organic agriculture prioritised?

Fernanda Machiaveli: We have three priorities. Firstly, we want to overcome hunger and poverty. We need healthy food for our people. And organic food is healthy. We are stimulating agroecology and organic food. We are going to have special financing and proper technical assistance to support farmers in the transition of conventional to organic production. It's not only for a sector of the population.

 

We want to bring healthy food for the entire population – three times a day on every table in the Brazilian families.

 

The second priority is to fight deforestation. We are developing policies to guarantee income to people who live in the Amazon. The strategy of our bioeconomy is based on harmony between production and environment. Agroforestry, agroecology, organic food and bioeconomy are all of priority for our government.

 

In the past, we had an organic and agroecological national policy which had been erased by the former government. This month, our president will launch a huge programme with government chambers to rebuild the agroecological and organic plan. Also, farmer organisations will participate in this process of policy construction. After four years without these policies, this is an important restart for our country.

 

How are you going to involve farmer organisations in the process?

We have many big networks of farmer organisations and they are very organised. Several organisations like for example the Agroecological National Association (ANA) will have the opportunity to participate in a counceling process with the presidency within the next four years.

 

Are there ambitions to convert agriculture to organic farming?

There is a difference between agroecology and organic production. For organic food, you need a certificate. At the moment, we are focusing on the transition from conventional to an agroecological way of producing. In the Northeast region, a very dry area, agroecology is very strong. It was necessary to develop technology to produce in this environment. Organic production is more a possibility in the South, where we have farmers that are more organised and able to apply for certification. They are also exposing their products during Biofach in Germany. We are at different stages in different parts of the country. The transition to agroecology is happening in most parts of the country and organic production mainly in the South.

 

How will you include indigenous people in this process?

At this moment we are facing hunger in many indigenous communities. One of the things we are going to do is to propose the German government a partnership to work on these communities. The Yanomami community in the Northern Amazon for example doesn't have access to food supply anymore because their environment is too damaged. 400 children died there in the last four years. This is a huge problem the president decided to address. All the ministries, including the Ministry of Indigenous People, are working there to transform this situation as soon as possible.

 

The main goal of the government is to provide indigenous people technical assistance to enable them to organise their own production.

 

What are further ideas do you have for the collaboration with the German development cooperation?

We would like to speak about a support in the bioeconomy in the Amazon region, to organise the value chains. Provide resources to support farmer organisations and to enhance exports. We want to work on the transition from conventional to agroecological production. We are also supporting biodiversity friendly products. We have to organise all these areas to make people live in harmony with the environment.

 

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