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The Brazilian peasants have always been part of someone else’s strategy, from industrial capital to agribusiness. The Peasant Plan is an attempt to create their own strategy to contribute to Brazil’s structural changes.
This is the proposal of the Small Farmers Movement of Brazil (MPA), an organization with representatives in 17 states of Brazil and a member of La Via Campesina. They are focused on production, although they have a clear political project, Raul Krauser told Real World Radio. He is a leader of the movement in Espirito Santo state.
As part of the 5th National Native Seed Festival organized by the MPA in Santa Catarina state, nearly twenty international delegates visited some families who preserve and multiply seeds. Their production is then left to the Seed Benefit Unit (UBS) managed by the Movement.
The UBS has a capacity to process nearly 10,000 tons of seeds a year. This is a clear way to confront the increasing invasion of GM and industrial seeds and to export peasant seeds to other countries, like Venezuela in 2011.
“We should be aware of what is known as the ’curse of the strategy’, which means that if you have no political strategy, don’t worry, you’ll be part of somebody else’s’”, so small peasants want to build their own strategy, said Krauser.
The Peasant Plan represents precisely that: a political project that implies both to expose the effects of wild capitalism on agriculture and to have a collective proposal.
“Our Peasant Plan is our indicator as to where we stand, where we want to be and what path we will take” says Krauser.
The peasants have played a historical role in providing cheap labor to the Brazilian elites for urban industrial production, while they produce food at low prices in order to keep the inflation rates low. “This has been historically the situation and it has not changed with the different administrations. The programs in place today only aim to help peasants survive in those conditions, while the cities prepare to receive labor”. However, Krauser points out that the reality is different: those municipalities with better living conditions are precisely the ones that have more peasants living and producing in the outskirts of the cities.
“If we have a strong peasant movement, we will have the chance to produce lots of food for everyone, by cooling the planet and creating jobs and genuine economic development also in the cities”.
To achieve this goal an agrarian reform is needed, which will include production and commercialization planning as well as mobilization so that no more peasants lose their lands to megaprojects.
“When peasants cannot have a direct relationship with the consumer there is exploitation, both of the peasant and of the consumer who pays more for the food while the peasant gets very little”.
Krauser also says the achievements in terms of government advocacy require the strong presence of grassroots organizations in order to work properly, since the State was created to secure agribusiness, not peasant agriculture.
The Peasant Plan is theoretical, but also practical. It is political but also ethical. “Do we want to eat food that traveled 7,000 miles to get to my table, which is full of agrochemicals or do we want to eat healthy, locally produced food?” The Peasant Plan aims to respond to these questions.
“When a peasant harvests a native corn seed it is fighting against a transnational corporation. In Rio Grande do Sul, 300,000 kilos of food we produce every month go to the poor neighborhoods of the city, others go to Espiritu Santo, in Bahia. We cannot wait to change the society. We need to show it is possible to build something new while we try to overcome the old”, he concluded.
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