Food Security

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 779–793 | Cite as

Linking Brazil’s food security policies to agricultural change

  • Johan A. OldekopEmail author
  • M. Jahi Chappell
  • Felipe E. Borges Peixoto
  • Adriano Pereira Paglia
  • Marina Schmoeller do Prado Rodrigues
  • Karl L. Evans
Original Paper


Poverty, food security, and sustainability are intimately intertwined, driving conflict and synergy between environmental and societal concerns. Brazil’s flagship food security policies were implemented over a decade ago to address these issues simultaneously. Global institutions have pledged over 2 million US$ to develop similar programs in sub-Saharan Africa, yet empirical assessments of many aspects of these policies are still lacking. We focus on a case study in the state of Minas Gerais and assess the agricultural and environmental impacts of the Purchase with Simultaneous Donation (PSD) program. The PSD provides stable markets as incentives to diversify production, but we find no effect of participation on changes in local agricultural practices, production or income. While some farms are expanding, regional agricultural production appears to be declining due to local economic development and related shortages in farm labor. The PSD’s limited impact arises because most farmers only participate irregularly, typically during the dry season when the program offers higher prices than the local market price. Furthermore, participation is constrained by the specific nature of PSD contracts and centralized governance of the program. We complement these findings with data from the Brazilian Ministry of Social Development and the 2006 agricultural census, which show substantial variation in the availability of PSD initiatives, and the funding allocated to them at local, regional and national levels. We suggest that adaptive management strategies that can respond to local market conditions could lead to more equitable and efficient food security and agricultural policies in Brazil and elsewhere.


Agricultural intensification Land abandonment Rural development Small-scale farming 



We thank Belo Horizonte’s Secretariat for Food Security for their logistical support as well as the staff of the EMATER and farmers’ union offices in Mário Campos who were instrumental in setting up initial contacts with the municipality’s farming community. We remain indebted to all the participants for their time and willingness to take part in the study. We also thank David Abson, Joern Fischer, Lorenza B. Fontana, Brenda B. Lin and two anonymous reviewers for useful comments on previous versions of this manuscript. This research was funded through a Washington State University grant to MJC.

Supplementary material

12571_2015_475_MOESM1_ESM.tif (74.9 mb)
Supplementary Figure 1 Proportion of farming establishments within different land holding size categories in states with active PSD programs engaging with individual farmers. Like in several other states, the majority of farmers in Minas Gerais operate lands smaller than 20 ha in size. Data are based on the 2006 Brazilian agricultural census (IBGE 2014a). (TIFF 76676 kb)
12571_2015_475_Fig4_ESM.gif (84 kb)

High Resolution (GIF 84 kb)

12571_2015_475_MOESM2_ESM.tif (74.7 mb)
Supplementary Figure 2 Proportion of the farming establishment engaging in different farming activities in states with active PSD programs that include individual farmers. In most states, including Minas Gerais, the majority of farmers engage in livestock production with little horticulture and varying degrees of temporary and permanent cash crop production. Data are based on the 2006 Brazilian agricultural census (IBGE 2014a). (TIFF 76475 kb)
12571_2015_475_Fig5_ESM.gif (80 kb)

High Resolution (GIF 79 kb)

12571_2015_475_MOESM3_ESM.tif (75 mb)
Supplementary Figure 3 Proportion of agricultural land managed by different income categories in states with active PSD programs engaging with individual farmers. In most states, including Minas Gerais, states, the majority of land is managed by farmers earning less than R$10,500 per month. Data are based on the 2006 Brazilian agricultural census (IBGE 2014a). (TIFF 76826 kb)
12571_2015_475_Fig6_ESM.gif (83 kb)

High Resolution (GIF 83 kb)


  1. Abson, D. J., Fraser, E. D. G., & Benton, T. (2013). Landscape diversity and the resilience of agricultural returns: a portfolio analysis of land-use patterns and economic returns from lowland agriculture. Agriculture and Food Security, 2, 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angelsen, A. (2010). Policies for reduced deforestation and their impact on agricultural production. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 107(46), 19639–19644.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Angelsen, A., & Kaimowitz, D. (2001). Agricultural technologies and tropical deforestation (Angelsen, A). Wallingford: CABI Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Araghi, F. A. (1995). Global depeasantization, 1945–1990. The Sociological Quarterly, 36(2), 337–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Araghi, F. (2008). The invisible hand and the visible foot: peasants, dispossession and globalization. In A. H. Akram-Lodhi & C. Kay (Eds.), Peasants and globalisation: political economy, rural transformation and the agrarian question (pp. 111–147). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Araújo, C. A., & Alessio, M. F. (2005) Política municipal de abastecimento e segurança alimentar. Fundação Getulio Vargas, Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.Google Scholar
  7. Barros, F. C., Matijasevich, A., Harris Requejo, J., Giugliani, E., Gorreti Maranhão, A., Monteiro, C. A., et al. (2010). Recent trends in maternal, newborn, and child health in Brazil: progress toward millennium development goals 4 and 5. American Journal of Public Health, 100(10), 1877–1889.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benjamini, Y., & Hochberg, Y. (1995). Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B (Statistical Methodology), 57(1), 289–300.Google Scholar
  9. Bryceson, D. F. (2002). The scramble in Africa: reorienting rural livelihoods. World Development, 30(5), 725–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Camara, G., Souza, R. C. M., Freitas, U. M., & Garrido, J. (1996). SPRING: Integrating remote sensing and GIS by object-oriented data modelling. Computers & Graphics, 20(3), 395–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chappell, M. J. (2009) From food security to farm to formicidae: Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s Secretaria Municipal de Abastecimento and biodiversity in the fragmented Atlantic Forest. PhD Thesis. The University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  12. Chavas, J. P., & Di Falco, S. (2012). On the role of risk versus economies of scope in farm diversification with an application to Ethiopian farms. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 63(1), 25–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chmielewska, D., & Souza, D. (2010). The food security context in Brazil. International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth. Brasilia: United Nations Development Programme.Google Scholar
  14. DeFries, R. S., Rudel, T. K., Uriarte, M., & Hansen, M. (2010). Deforestation driven by urban population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century. Nature Geoscience, 3, 178–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Development Core Team, R. (2011). R: a language environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.Google Scholar
  16. Dimitri, C., Effland, A., & Conklin, N. (2005). The 20th century transition of U.S. agriculture and farm policy. Washington, D. C: Economic Information Bulletin No. 3, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.Google Scholar
  17. Doretto, M., & Michellon, E. (2007). Avaliação dos impactos econômicos, sociais e culturais do programa de aquisição de alimentos no Paraná. Sociedade e Desenvolvimento Rural, 1, 107–138.Google Scholar
  18. Dorward, A. R., Fan, S., Kydd, J., Lofgren, H., Morrison, J., Poulton, C., et al. (2004). Institutions and policies for pro-poor agricultural growth. Development Policy Review, 22(6), 611–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dorward, A. R., Kirsten, J. F., Omamo, S. W., Poulton, C., & Vink, N. (2009). Institutions and the agricultural development challenge in Africa. In J. F. Kirsten, A. R. Dorward, C. Poulton, & N. Vink (Eds.), Institutional economics perspective on African agricultural development. Washington DC: IFPRI.Google Scholar
  20. Fenwick, T. B. (2009). Avoiding Governors: the success of Bolsa Família. Latin American Research Review, 44(1), 102–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (2012) Brazil to fund food purchasing program in five African countries. FAO Media Centre. Available: Accessed 10 May 2013.
  22. García-Barrios, R., & García-Barrios, L. E. (1990). Environmental and technological degradation in peasant agriculture: a consequence of development in Mexico. World Development, 18(11), 1569–1585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Godfray, H. C. J., Beddington, J. R., Crute, I. R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J., et al. (2010). Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science, 327, 812–818.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) (2013) Available: Accessed July 21st, 2013.
  25. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) (2014a) Accessed October 16, 2014.
  26. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) (2014b) Available: Accessed October 16, 2014.
  27. Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE). (2012) SOS Mata Atlântica: Atlas da Mata Atlântica: Available: Accessed 17 March 2014.
  28. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). (2009). Agriculture at a crossroads: International assessment of agricultural knowledge, science and technology for development. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.Google Scholar
  29. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). (2005). The future of small farms: Proceedings of a research workshop, Wye, UK, June 26–29, 2005. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).Google Scholar
  30. Lin, B. B., Chappell, M. J., Vandermeer, J., Smith, G., Quintero, E., Bezner-Kerr, R., et al. (2011). Effects of industrial agriculture on global warming and the mitigation potential of small-scale agro-ecological farms. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition, and Natural Resources, 6(20), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mattei, L. (2007). Políticas públicas de combate à fome: O caso do programa de aquisição de alimentos da agricultura familiar no estado de Santa Catarina. Sociedade e Desenvolvimento Rural, 1, 1–31.Google Scholar
  32. Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome (MDS) (2013) PAA Data; Janeiro a Março do 2013. Available: Accessed 19 July 2013.
  33. Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome (MDS) (2014) PAA Data Accessed 16 October 2014
  34. Moran, S. (2011). Brazilian bill weakens Amazon protection. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature.2011.9584.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Moreira, C., Piccin, M., Santarelli, M., & Gadelha, E. (2010). O programa de aquisição de alimentos da agricultura familiar e o Fome Zero. In A. V. Aranha (Ed.), Fome Zero: Uma história brasileira. Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome (pp. 206–218). Brasília: MDS.Google Scholar
  36. Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. B., & Kent, J. (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for the conservation of nature. Nature, 403, 853–858.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Paganini, S. (2010). A implantação do PAA - Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos. In A. V. Aranha (Ed.), Fome Zero: Uma história brasileira. Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome (pp. 105–205). Brasília: MDS.Google Scholar
  38. Páres-Ramos, I. K., Gould, W. A., & Aide, T. M. (2008). Agricultural abandonment, suburban growth, and forest expansion in Puerto Rico between 1991 and 2000. Ecology and Society, 13, 1.Google Scholar
  39. Perfecto, I., & Vandermeer, J. (2010). The agroecological matrix as alternative to the land-sparing/agriculture intensification model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 107(13), 5786–5791.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Perfecto, I., Vandermeer, J., & Wright, A. (2009). Nature’s matrix: Biodiversity, agriculture and food sovereignty. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  41. Phalan, B., Balmford, A., Green, R. E., & Scharlemann, J. P. W. R. (2011). Minimising the harm to biodiversity of producing more food globally. Food Policy, 36, S62–S71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ravallion, M., Chen, S., & Sangraula, P. (2007). New evidence on the urbanization of global poverty: Background paper for the world development report 2008. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  43. Rudel, T. K., Bates, D., & Machinguiachi, R. (2002). A tropical forest transition? Agricultural change, out-migration, and secondary forests in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 92(1), 87–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rudel, T. K., DeFries, R., Asner, G. P., & Laurance, W. F. (2009). Changing drivers of deforestation and new opportunities for conservation. Conservation Biology, 23(6), 1596–1405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sloan, S. (2007). Fewer people may not mean more forest for Latin American forest frontiers. Biotropica, 39(4), 443–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Taylor, M. T. (2009). Institutional development through policy making: a case study of the Brazilian Central Bank. World Politics, 61(3), 487–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tollefson, J. (2012). President prunes forest reforms. Nature, 486, 13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tscharntke, T., Klein, A. M., Kruess, A., Steffan-Dewenter, I., & Thies, C. (2005). Landscape perspectives on agricultural intensification and biodiversity-ecosystem service management. Ecology Letters, 8, 857–874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tscharntke, T., Clough, Y., Wanger, T. C., Jackson, L., Motzke, I., Perfecto, I., et al. (2012). Global food security, biodiversity conservation and the future of agricultural intensification. Biological Conservation, 151(1), 53–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johan A. Oldekop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • M. Jahi Chappell
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Felipe E. Borges Peixoto
    • 2
  • Adriano Pereira Paglia
    • 5
  • Marina Schmoeller do Prado Rodrigues
    • 5
  • Karl L. Evans
    • 6
  1. 1.Sheffield Institute for International DevelopmentThe University of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.School of the EnvironmentWashington State UniversityVancouverUSA
  3. 3.Center for Social and Environmental JusticeWashington State UniversityVancouverUSA
  4. 4.Institute for Agriculture and Trade PolicyMinneapolisUSA
  5. 5.Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  6. 6.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesThe University of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  7. 7.International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) Research Network School of Natural Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations