From 3 to 5 June Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, hosted the international seminar "Institutional Purchase + Local Development". The goal of the seminar was to promote the exchange of experiences among Brazil and other developing countries on institutional food purchase from smallholder farmers, to support strategies of social development in those countries.
The event was held by the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger (MDS), with support from the World Food Programme (WFP) Centre of Excellence against Hunger, in partnership with the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.
Representatives of the African countries of Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Gambia attended the event, as well as a delegation from Pakistan that was in Brazil for a study visit since last week. In addition to international delegations, the event brought together representatives from federal, state, and municipal governments. The director of the Centre of Excellence, Daniel Balaban, and the deputy director, Cynthia Jones, were present, as were the head of DFID in Brazil, Indranil Chakrabarti, and the Secretary of Food and Nutrition Security of MDS, Arnoldo de Campos.
Exchange of experiences
On Tuesday, 3 June, first day of event, discussions focused on the exchange of experiences among representatives of the visiting countries and members of the Brazilian government. The delegations of Mozambique, Ethiopia, The Gambia, and Pakistan briefly presented the social challenges faced by their countries and discussed their interests and priorities for the exchange with Brazil.
Irene Cunha, from the Secretariat of Federal Affairs, Presidency of the Republic, explained to the delegations how the federative system in Brazil is structured and highlighted: “In spite of the great advances of the last few years, Brazil is still an unequal federation. The 283 municipalities with over 100,000 inhabitants generate 70% of the country’s income, while the 3,915 municipalities with up to 20,000 inhabitants generate less than 11% of the income”. Luciana Alves de Oliveira, from the Secretariat for Eradication of Extreme Poverty of MDS, spoke about the challenge of eradicating extreme poverty in Brazil and the importance of intersectoriality to achieve it.
Jennifer Carla Paula, from the Secretariat of Income and Citizenship of MDS presented the process of constructing and managing the Brazilian single registry (Cadastro Único), a tool created by the Brazilian government to identify the low-income families that are benefitted by social programmes, cinluding the Bolsa Família. About the Bolsa Família, Jennifer explained: "The programme has three dimensions. The first one is to provide immediate alleviation of poverty, through direct cash transfer to the families. The second is to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, through the health and education conditions. And the third is to promote the development of families through complementary programmes of capacity building and income generation”.
Denise Kroeff, from the Secretariat of Food and Nutrition Security of MDS, discussed rural prodction inclusion and the importance of institutional procurement. The first day was closed with a presentation of the current Brazilian initiatives to support other developing countries in the fight against hunger and poverty by Daniel Balaban, Indranil Chakrabarti, and Arnoldo Campos.
Institutional food purchase
The second day of event had the participation of over 150 people, representing governmental and civil society institutions involved in institutional food purchase and smallholder farmers. The opening session was made by Isabelle Mballa, WFP Regional Purchase for Progress (P4P) Advisor for West Africa, Alan Bojanic, representative of FAO in Brazil, and Arnoldo de Campos, Secretary of Food and Nutrition Security of MDS.
Isabelle Mballa the WFP experiences with institutional food purchase and setressed that "WFP model is progressively evolving from emergency only to recovery and country capacity development". Alan Bojanic discussed the experiences of FAO on Latin-America and the Caribbean and said: “in spite of the advances, it is still unacceptable the number of persons suffering from hunger in the world”. Arnoldo de Campos explained how the Food Acquisition Programme works and why it is important to Brazil and sated that “the food purchase conducted by the Brazilian school feeding programme is a reference for the Food Acquisition Programme (PAA) in Brazil”.
The country delegations then presented their realities to the Brazilian audience. Each speaker presented social and economic data on their countries, informed about social development programmes already in place and the main challenges faced, and highlighted the expectations of the countries in relation to the cooperation with Brazil.
With the intent of getting to know better the Brazilian single registry (Cadastro Único), Carlota Tomucene, from the Ministry of Woman and Social Action of Mozambique, participated in the seminar along with Deolinda Pacho, from the WFP country office. Carlota informed that 0.9% of the Mozambique’s GDP goes to the country’s social programmes and shared the difficulties of her country in implementing cash transfer programmes. With over 54% of the population being illiterate, the identification of potential beneficiaries is a great challenge. “Over three years ago, Mozambique contacted the Brazilian government to seek support in the development of our Cadastro Único. Our participation in this seminar is a result of this and it is a great opportunity for future cooperation”, said Carlota.
Michael Berhanu, director of Food Security of the Ministry of Agriculture, and Netsanet Mulat, both technicians working with social development in the government of Ethiopia, recognized the necessity of elaborating a social development policy to encompass the many social assistance and development programmes in their country. In this sense, the support from Brazil, both technical and political, for designing, creating, and approving social development mechanisms with a multisectorial approach to the social programmes, based on the Brazilian experience.
Fanta Bai Secka, director of Social Welfare of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of The Gambia, informed that 37% of the Gambian population live below the poverty line. Gambia is number 168 on the Human Development Index ranking, that encompasses 182 countries. According to Bai Madi Ceesay, from the Ministry of Finance, the country already invests 1.2% of its GDP in social programmes, but their goal is to reach 3%. One of the mains challenges of The Gambia is to mobilize the necessary resources to implement the Social Protection Policy that is being designed for two years. According to the delegation, besides mobilizing resources, te cooperation with Brazil can help the country to increase its technical and administrative capacity and improve its legal framework.
On 5 June, the delegations of Mozambique, Ethiopia, The Gambia and Pakistan participated in a field trip to smallholder farmers and one cooperative, called COOTAP, to see firsthand how the institutional food purchase works and discuss with the producers about the impacts of this kind of initiative on their lives.
Later, the participants visited a Reference Centre for Social Assistance (CRAS), a public and decentralized unit that is part of the Brazilian National Policy for Social Assistance. The CRAS is the first gateway to the Brazilian unified System for Social Assistance due to its capillarity in the territory. It is responsible for organizing the provision of social protection services, including the Bolsa Família, for vulnerable and at-risk populations.
The event in Porto Alegre marked the beginning of the Partnership for National Social Development Initiatives, project conducted by the Centre and MDS, with support from DFID, that aims to strengthen Brazil’s role and impact in conducting South-South cooperation initiatives to support the creation and advances of social development programmes to reduce poverty and hunger in low income countries in Africa through food and nutrition security initiatives. Mozambique, Ethiopia, and The Gambia are three of the four countries that are going to participate in the project. The fourth is Zambia, which couldn’t send a delegation to Brazil on this occasion.
Taking advantage of their presence in Brazil, the entities participating in the project conducted the first meeting on 2 June, to align expectations. Each country had the chance to present their priorities and clarify doubts about the projects. MDS, DFID and the Centre of Excellence explained the details of the project and how the partnership was designed. “Since 2005, DFID works with Brazil to share the Brazilian experiences with other developing countries, and we noticed that the real beauty of the Brazilian model is intersectoriality”, said Indranil Chakrabarti.
To see pictures of the event, visit our album on Facebook.