• Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

‘Brazil wants agricultural technology transfer,’ says

“We’re having conversations to find a way to make business partnerships that include technology transfer [to Brazil],” said Paulo Teixeira, Brazil’s Minister of Agrarian Development, on a visit to China last week. He is one of the six Brazilian ministers in a delegation led by Vice President and Minister of Development, Industry, Trade and Services Geraldo Alckmin, which concluded on Friday (7) the agendas related to the 7th Meeting of the Sino-Brazilian High-Level Coordination and Cooperation Committee (Cosban).

“We spoke with Dilma Rousseff, who is currently heading the BRICS development bank (New Development Bank, NDB) to help Brazilian companies in these partnerships by providing financing,” Teixeira added.

The talks with the NDB include possible funding for programs to strengthen cooperatives, purchase machinery, and produce organic fertilizers for family farming in Brazil.

With Brazil’s Minister of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger, Wellington Dias, Teixeira took part in one of the first activities held within the framework of Cosban, a forum with Chinese authorities on the Fight against Poverty and the so-called Rural Revitalization.

“President Lula plans to walk forward with small farmers,” said Dias. In this sense, the partnership with China will greatly increase productivity on the 4 million or so small farmers’ properties in Brazil, to “guarantee not only harvesters, planters and machines for preparing the land [to sowing], but also for processing products.”

The event was organized by the China Economic Cooperation Center of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CECC), the University of Brasilia (UnB, in Portuguese), the Taihe Institute and the International Association for People’s Cooperation (Baobab).

Cosban’s moves 

That was the first time that Brazil’s largest grassroots organizations attended an event within the framework of Cosban: Landless Workers’ Movement (MST, in Portuguese), National Confederation of Rural Family Farmers (Contag, in Portuguese), Brazil’s Confederation of Workers in Family Farming (Contraf), and Small Farmers’ Movement (MPA, in Portuguese).

“We want Brazil to advance in the machinery industry, not by importing them, but by producing them. If necessary, we will import machinery, but not forgetting to focus on bringing technological advances to Brazilian industry, as China has done,” said Elias Araújo, a leader of the MST.

Minister Wellington Dias also valued cooperation in technical assistance and between higher education institutions, such as the Chinese University of Agriculture and the University of Brasilia.

The partnership between the China University of Agriculture and Brazil’s Northeast Consortium allowed the first shipment of agricultural machinery to family farming in the Northeast, a Brazilian region where this sector has a mechanization rate of less than 3%.

Rice harvest in the Cristina Alves MST Encampment. Framers use Chinese machinery. / Eduardo Moura/MST-MA

Aristides Santos, president of Contag, stressed the need to set up factories in the region. He also stressed that the machines must be “adapted to our reality, and with our involvement in universities and agricultural technicians.”

“[It’s necessary] that we can better study what is most suitable for us because it’s not enough to mechanize – we have to mechanize from the point of view of family farming [respecting] the conditions of our soil and climate so that it can be sustainable,” Aristides said.

Advances in partnerships and exchanges

The family farming delegation traveled to Shandong province to visit a Lovol factory, a Chinese family farming machinery company that has a unit in Brazil. They also visited a cooperative that is a model of the country’s rural revitalization policy.

“This company employs 10,000 workers and produces tractors and agricultural implements. They intend to partner with Brazil. We also took Brazilian industrialists who want to make partnerships, joint ventures and bring the technology they have, important and new technologies aimed at agricultural machinery,” said Teixeira.

They visited the Weifang Yuquanwa Professional Cooperative Farming Union, made up of more than 600 small farmers who produce organic crops, biogas and organic fertilizers.

Another case of the “rural revitalization” process shared during the forum was that of Jilin province, where policies to improve infrastructure and support farmers, as in the previous case, have allowed rural families’ incomes to increase in recent years.

Yu Leqian, from the Jilin Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said that since 2012, the income of the province’s rural population with the least resources has increased fivefold: “from less than US$ 353 to US$ 2,173 in 2023.”

“All villages now have access to paved roads, 4G and 5G communication services and electricity. Some of the villagers now live a life as good as those in urban areas,” said Leqian.

For Ye Jingzhong, a professor at the College of Humanities and Development Studies at China Agriculture University, the example of China’s anti-poverty policies has to do with financial resources, but above all with the mobilization of broad sectors of Chinese society to this end.

“The following is very important: drawing the attention of the whole population, including government agencies and social organizations, to work on rural poverty to get people to pay attention to fighting poverty,” he said.

“And we have many mechanisms, for instance, to get government officials to come to the villages to be responsible for diminishing poverty, that the business sectors are also connected to these villages, to get involved in poverty reduction,” he added.

Caroline Gomide, a visiting researcher from UnB currently at CAU, described the meeting between the Brazilian delegation and Chinese experts and officials as a historic moment.

“We do not doubt that this is a historic moment in the successful 50-year relationship between our countries, as it heralds family farming as a new front for cooperation in the coming years. It is also historic for innovative agendas for the Global South, which is emerging as a new world arrangement guided by peace and common prosperity,” said Gomide.

Edited by: Rodrigo Gomes


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