Magazine article New Internationalist

Deep Green

Magazine article New Internationalist

Deep Green

Article excerpt

Something is growing fast in the Brazilian countryside. And it's not just the monoculture plantations of eucalyptus, soy and sugar cane for which city-sized chunks of rainforest are cleared. The Movement of Small Farmers (Movimiento de Pequeños Agricultores, MPA) has in just 10 years mobilized 10,000 families across 14 states to resist the expansion of these vast plantations and the transnationals that are often behind them. Such industrial farming displaces entire populations, poisons the land with chemicals and contributes nothing to the local food bowl.

On the other hand, small-scale family farmers produce almost 60 per cent of Brazilian food. By joining the MPA they band together to resist pressure from big agribusiness companies to sell their lands for conversion to monoculture. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), 5.3 million people abandoned the rural areas between 1999 and 2001. There are now more than a million landless people in Brazil and 80 per cent of the population is squeezed into urban areas.

Standing up to agribusiness in rural Brazil takes courage. Small farmers are often victims of serious violence and even murder. Between 1990 and 2002, the Pastoral Land Commission (Comissäo Pastoral da Terra, CPT) reported 16 assassinations connected to the sugar cane industry alone. Nonetheless, MPA members see little choice but to stay and fight. As one farmer battling a huge foreign-owned eucalyptus plantation put it: 'We believe the unity of the small farmers is the only way to succeed. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.