Landless in Brazil
Country: Brazil |Â Partner: Movimento Sem Terra
- To build a different society where people matter more than profit
- To provide land that serves everyone in society
- To guarantee work to all, with fair distribution of land and wealth
- To develop a new way of doing agriculture that does not depend on big agribusiness and that respects the environment
- The MST has won land titles for more than 350,000 families in 2,000 settlements
- 90,000 encamped families currently await government recognition
- 96 small and medium-sized cooperatives that process fruit, vegetables, dairy products, grains, coffee, meat, and sweets have been established; such MST economic enterprises generate employment, income, and revenue that indirectly benefit about 700 small towns in rural Brazil
- The MST has established over 1,000 schools attended by 95,000 children and 17,000 adult learners
- BIONATUR - an MST venture that produces organic seeds - is reclaiming control of seeds from multinational corporations
- The MST is the largest social movement in Latin America with an estimated 1.5 million landless members organized in 23 out 27 states
- In Brazil, 1.6% of the landowners control roughly half (46.8%) of the land on which crops could be grown and just 3% of the population owns two-thirds of all arable lands
- Concentration of the seed market is increasing, with Monsanto controlling 60% of the maize seed market, for example
- The "technological packages" required by multinationals when seeds are purchased from them can cost farmers 60-70% of their earnings
In Brazil less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of the land and more than half the farmland lies idle. Four million homeless, landless and jobless peasant farmers are denied a decent living. The Movimento Sem Terra or Landless Workers' Movement works throughout Brazil to ensure that landless people have greater access to land.
The conflict over land, with homeless peasants on one side, and landownersâ€™ armed thugs and the police on the other, has plagued Brazil for decades. The conflict has left over one thousand landless peasants murdered, and landless and rural people face malnutrition, lack of access to clean water, sanitation and basic health or education services, and a lifetime spent in roadside shantytowns of black plastic tents.
The Movimento Sem Terra is one of the strongest social movements in Brazil today, and campaigns against the industrial export agriculture model that excludes peasants and causes inequality and environmental degradation. The MST is a 1.5 million-member movement that organises landless and impoverished farmers to realise their human rights.
Despite heavy repression, it has managed to settle 300,000 families nationwide on unused land since its inception. In the Agrarian Reform shop, supported by War on Want, the MST sells products from the new settlements with fair prices for the producer. The MST has also built its own schools under its slogan 'education for every child'.
In response to the increasing corporate takeover of agriculture, the MST is now developing sustainable farming methods, or agroecology.
War on Want works with the MST to help ensure that farmers can use agroecological techniques, produce and save their own seeds, and call for the Brazilian government to adopt agricultural policies that support such sustainable approaches. In addition to the environmental benefits of agroecology, it can bring huge economic benefits to small farmers. Families saw their input costs fall from between $500 and $700 per hectare to a mere $28 - savings of over 1500%.
War on Want gratefully acknowledges funding for this partner from the Civil Society Challenge Fund of the UK government's Department for International Development