High-Level Joint Executive-Legislative Study Mission to Brazil
PAKISAMA President Rene Cerilla joined a high-level joint Executive-Legislative Study Mission to Brazil in July 4-12, 2015 to study the Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) Program which largely reduced Brazil’s hunger, malnutrition and poverty by supporting local farmers and locally-sourced consumption. In 2014, FAO reported that the number of undernourished Brazilians fell by more than 80% in 10 years and removed Brazil from the World Hunger Map.
Brazil is widely regarded as a model in social protection programs. The Philippines’ conditional cash transfer (CCT) program known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps is modelled after Brazil’s Bolsa Familia (Family Grant) that has lifted 36 million Brazilians from poverty since 2003. The Food Acquisition Program (PAA), Bolsa Familia and National School Feeding program (PNAE) are part of the Zero Hunger Strategy.
The Zero Hunger program allows smallholder farmers produce and supply the needed food requirements of school children. The right of children to adequate and nutritious food is tied up with their education. This right is also tied up with social justice and rural development efforts given that the suppliers of food are smallholder farmers, some of whom are beneficiaries of Brazil’s land reform.
In December 2013, the Philippines launched the Partnership against Hunger Poverty (PAHP) which is modelled after the PAA, following the Study Visit to Brazil of Secretary Corazon Soliman and Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes of the Departments of Social Work and Development (DSWD) and Agrarian Reform (DAR), respectively. The PAHP program refers to the government purchase of products from smallholder farmers and cooperatives for use in e.g., feeding programs in schools and day care centers. PAHP was first implemented in the Bicol Region and would be rolled out to the Zamboanga Peninsula and Eastern Visayas Regions. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Program (WFP), with the Brazilian Government, provide support and technical assistance to PAHP.
The Brazil study visit aimed to improve the implementation of PAHP by incorporating and adapting the best practices from Brazil’s experience. The delegation was led by Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez III (Akbayan), Vice-Chairperson of the House Committee on Human Rights and author of “An Act Providing a Framework for the Right to Adequate Food” (Zero Hunger Bill). Also in the delegation were Rep. Maria Leonor Gerona-Robredo (author of “National Food Security Act”), DAR Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong, DSWD Assistant Secretary Camilo Gudmalin, Ms. Fely Domingo-Parcon, Legislative Committee Secretary, and Ms Aurea Miclat-Teves of FIAN-Philippines. As the lone farmers’ sector delegate, Ka Rene brought the perspectives of smallholder farmers organizations. The Study Mission included field visits to study the “supply side” (e.g. smallholder farms) and “demand side” (e.g. food hubs, canteens, public restaurants) of the Zero Hunger program.
The delegation also visited the “Chapadinha” Settlement organized with assistance from the National Federation of Workers in Family Farming (FETRAF). The “supply side” visit to smallholder farmers’ farm looked at who are the smallholder farmers (targeting, selection); components of family farms that supply the feeding program (e.g., technical extension, business management, marketing); what are the results in terms of farmers’ income. The “demand side” looked at food preparation, how nutritional requirements are addressed, who are the beneficiaries (targeting, selection), what are the impacts and tangible results. The delegation also held meetings with: CONSEA or the National Council on Food Security and Nutrition where family farmers organizations are given seats in an official capacity; SESAN (National Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition), Ministry of Education, Ministries of Agrarian Development, Agriculture; Landless Workers’ Movement (MST); National Coordinator of Crop Insurance for Family Farming; Brazilian Secretariat of Human Rights; Federal Public Defender, Planning, Budget and Management Ministry.
The study visit showed the links between social protection and smallholder farming, between Brazil and other countries that implement similar initiatives, and between actual programs and the policies that enabled them. The discussion with Brazil legislators shared experiences on how they were able to pass their National Food Security Act.