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In a book on hunger in Brazil, GPP researchers discuss the dynamics of agricultural production


Last week, the Josué de Castro Chair of Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems launched the book “From hunger to hunger: dialogues with Josué de Castro”, a work that rescues the thinking of the intellectual from Pernambuco to discuss the situation of hunger in Brazil today. The GPP researcher, Ana Chamma, and the former coordinator of the group, Gerd Sparovek, contributed to the book with the article “Where it comes from and where it goes: the case of the Brazilian agricultural sector”. In it, the authors stress the contradiction of the current national scenario: a country with a record in agricultural production, with records in crops and exports; which, even so, witnesses the resurgence of hunger in its population, with more than half of Brazilians facing some degree of food insecurity, according to a survey by the Penssan Network.


“Brazil is one of the main agricultural producers in the world – the largest producer of soy, sugar cane, coffee and orange juice, and the second largest producer of beef. Brazilian agribusiness is situated in the global food trade game as an important player given its size and potential for food supply (Schneider et al., 2020). However, the growth of food insecurity in the country is contradictory – nineteen million people faced hunger in 2020 (Rede Penssan, 2021) – when Brazilian exports of agricultural products hit records. The volume exported by the agricultural sector grew 10% from 2019 to 2020, and revenue, 4%, reaching 101 billion dollars”, write the authors at the beginning of the text.


Throughout the article, Chamma and Sparovek present a history of the development of the agricultural sector in Brazil, explaining how the country reached a leading role in global agribusiness. In addition, they also present territorial dynamics observed over time, especially in the last four decades, demonstrating that the intensification of agricultural production cannot be seen as the only solution for a more sustainable production path. The authors then address the dynamics that have been observed in the countryside: the concentration of production and the deactivation, mainly, of small rural properties.


“It is possible to say that the Brazilian agricultural sector is not, and perhaps never was, focused on solving the problem of hunger in the country, at least internally (since it exports large volumes of food). However, this is nothing new. In his book Geografia da Fome, published in 1946, Josué de Castro demystified the idea that hunger resulted from the scarcity of food quantity and the climatic conditions for this; it would, in fact, result from the socio-political structure and the poor distribution of land or resources in the country”, they point out.


The book has an open access digital version – click here to read. Printed copies can be purchased from Editora Elefante. “From hunger to hunger” was organized by Professor Josué de Castro, former Minister of Social Development and Fight against Hunger Tereza Campello, together with Assistant Researcher of the Chair, Ana Paula Bortoletto.

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