The Centre of Excellence against Hunger organized a study visit for a legislative delegation from Bolivia interested in exchanging experiences with Brazil about the design, approval and implementation of a national policy on school feeding. The delegation was in Brazil from August 26 to 29 to meet with representatives of the Brazilian Congress, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agrarian Development and institutions related to school feeding and smallholder agriculture.
After being greeted by the Centre director, Daniel Balaban, the delegation had a meeting with representatives of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies. Brazilian congressman Padre João, who is involved in assuring that Brazilian legislation addresses issues related to food security, school feeding, and smallholder farmers, explained to the Bolivian delegation how Brazil managed to create a school feeding law, a school feeding national policy, and a food security national policy. “Data show that well fed kids have better performance in school. Access to food is a matter of social justice”, said Padre João.
Congressman Padre João discusses the Brazilian school feeding law
Photo: WFP/Isadora Ferreira
Congresswoman Ingrid Zabala, from Bolivia, said: “We have a school feeding bill waiting for approval. There are no doubts that providing adequate food to kids is not and expense, it is an investment. We want Brazil’s help to see clearly the benefits of school feeding to the farmers. With this clarity, we will be able to move quickly to approve the new law”.
The delegation had meetings with the Brazilian National fund for the Development of Education (FNDE) to understand how the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE) is funded and what are the general rules of the programme. They also visited the National Council of Food and Nutritional Security and were received by councilor Nathalie Beghin, who explained the mechanisms to assure civil society participation in the elaboration and implementation of policies and programmes related to food security.
After discussing the Brazilian strategies to support smallholder farmers with the Secretary for Family Farming of the Ministry of Agrarian Development and the Company for Technical Assistance and Rural Extension of the Federal District (EMATER-DF), the delegation went in a field trip to São Sebastião, in the rural area of the Federal District. They visited a cooperative of milk producers, which provides dairies to the local school feeding programme.
The cooperative sells milk, cheese and yogurt. They started with 30 producers and now have almost 200 cooperates. According to the cooperative president, Luiz Torres, around 80 percent of its sales are made through public purchase programmes, including the school feeding programme. “We depend upon the public procurement, because it is our insurance that our production is going to be sold by a fair price. We can’t compete with the big dairy industry, so selling to the government is the best way to access markets”, says Mr. Torres. He also explains the advantages of being a cooperate: the cooperative buys even small amounts of milk, the price is fair, and the profit is divided among the cooperates.
Property of Mr. Rivaldo Gonçalves, where he produces 300 litres of milk per day
Photo: WFP/Isadora Ferreira
The delegation visited the property of Mr. Rivaldo Gonçalves, milk producer that participates in the Food Acquisition Programme (PAA). Mr. Gonçalves lives in his property with his wife and three kids. He works alone to produce 300 liters of milk per day. When he started 10 years ago, he was producing 10 liters per day, and he credits the improvement to the assistance received from EMATER: “raising cattle is complex. The technical assistance we receive from Emater, with agronomists, veterinarians, is crucial”.
He receives not only technical assistance, but also credit. According to Mr. Gonçalves, the downside of selling his produce to the government is delay in payments, which can make it difficult for him to pay his debts. Still, he thinks raising cattle is better than living in the city: “We see many people leaving the countryside to go to the cities chasing better life opportunities. I did the opposite, and I hope my sons will be able to stay here and live a good life here”.
In order to get to know the whole chain of the school feeding programme, the Bolivian delegation visited a rural school to talk to staff members about the execution of the programme from the school point of view. To close the field trip, the participants had lunch in the popular restaurant of São Sebastião, which is an important part of the Brazilian food security strategy. Popular restaurants are subsided to serve nutritious meals in food-insecure areas for a very low price (US$ 0.50). The Federal District has 13 popular restaurants. Each one of them serve 3,000 meals per day.