WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin met with Minister for Agrarian Development of Brazil, Pepe Vargas

 Rio de Janeiro- Cousin has been meeting with representatives of governments and the private sector during Rio+20 Conference in Brazil. Accompanied by the Director of WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, Daniel Balaban, she met with the Minister for Agrarian Development of Brazil, Pepe Vargas, on Monday June 18th.

The Minister provided an overview of Brazil's national policies and programmes in support of small scale farming. The ED engaged on discussions to learn more in details about Brazil's social programmes that could be adapted and implemented in other developing counties.

The Ministry of Agrarian Development implements policies in support of small scale farming and agrarian reform. 4.3 million small holders' families produce 70% of Brazil's agricultural outputs and account for 28% of the countries' food exports. Minister Vargas mentioned that 16 million Brazilians are extremely poor; half of this population live in rural areas. In 2012, MDA has offered US$6Bn in loans to finance small farming activities across the country. US$1.3Bn is MDA's 2012 budget for procurement of food from small holders. The financial support to small scale farming is perceived by the Government as a virtual cycle that helps move the economy. Small holders farming development is a state government policy perceived as a worthy long-term investment, protected by law.

Great majority of the food used to regulate strategic food reserves and implement social programmes is procured from small holder farmers. Criteria for Government's support to small scale farmers are: 1) size of land (average 20 hectares per household - but vary according to the region); 2) pre-defined maximum monthly income per household; and 3) cultivation labour by household members 4) management of the farm by the family.

Brazil will soon launch a national platform to facilitate commercial transactions for small farmers to connect with other non-public companies. The Government mail services (Correios) will be used to facilitate logistics to distribute food anywhere in Brazil.

The ED mentioned that the WFP Centre of Excellence is capitalizing on Brazil's expertise to duplicate best practices and adapt them to the different realities faced by WFP in other developing counties.