Authorities nearly zero funds for meals applications within the 2023 Funds
- September 28, 2022
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The main food assistance programs were practically extinct from the budget presented by the federal government for 2023. Important actions had cuts ranging from 95% to 97% in the budget planned for next year, such as Alimenta Brasil. The increase in funds for these programs depends on the interest of parliamentarians to transfer them through amendments or negotiation before the Budget vote, which normally takes place in December.
Those affected are mainly small farmers and traditional communities such as quilombolas. The cisterns program, which allows access to water for human consumption and food production, has been practically paralyzed since 2021 and there is no forecast of funds for 2023. With the shrinking of transfers, these groups no longer have income and expand the integration of their productions, reducing the nutritional supply of what they can consume.
What is Alimenta Brasil? It is the main food acquisition program for family farming. He buys from the agricultural production of families and donates the food to people in situations of food and nutrition insecurity.
What is the impact of the lack of funds? “Farming families in a situation of severe food insecurity often face the condition of insufficient land for planting or lack of access to water to produce in the dry season”, says Silvio Isoppo Porto, professor at UFRB (Federal University of the Recôncavo da Bahia) and former director of Conab (National Supply Company).
“The possibility of accessing the market through the federal government is fundamental to contribute to the expansion of productive diversification and access to income”, he says. A survey released in June showed that more than half (58.7%) of the Brazilian population lives with some degree of food insecurity, which means 125.2 million Brazilians.
What are the program resources? The programs with almost zero funds are under the command of the Ministry of Citizenship, the same that pays Auxílio Brasil, the main bet of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) for reelection. The ministry’s budget for 2023 grew by 32% to meet a greater number of beneficiaries of Auxílio Brasil. But this money does not go towards food and nutrition security or access to water.
The amount allocated to Alimenta Brasil was reduced by 97%, to R$ 2.6 million. In 2010, it received R$ 622 million, but it has suffered cuts in recent years. “The reduction of resources has a direct impact on farming families, traditional communities and indigenous peoples, who stop producing and selling”, says Porto.
Despite the cut, Bolsonaro said at the free election time that Alimenta Brasil is one of his government’s priorities, if reelected.
Effects for small farmers: Maria Conceição Ferreira is a producer and president of the Rural Workers Union of Feira de Santana (BA). She affirms that the cuts in resources for the purchase of food from small agriculture have brought several losses, especially due to the reduction of Alimenta Brasil.
“We were organized around the associations, and the production was all commercialized [com o governo]. With these cuts, it generated unemployment and lack of opportunity. If I don’t have anyone to send this food to, I don’t have much to produce either”, he says. According to her, the purchase volume has fallen by around 90% in recent years.
To try to mitigate the losses, Ferreira says that the entities have organized fairs and spaces for farmers to sell their products directly, but he says that they do not supply what was lost with the drop in government purchases.
“This does not have an immediate answer. With the purchase of food by the government, we produced already knowing the quantity and that the resource was guaranteed. Today is adventurous: I can take my product to the fair and not sell anything. This directly impacts family income,” she says.
Impoverished Meals: Maria Domingas Marques Pinto, 60, is part of a coconut breakers cooperative in Itapecuru-Mirim (MA). The group sold products to the federal government, but has not received support from Alimenta Brasil since 2021.
“It is too much needed, we feel the loss of resources in our skin. There is no food on the table. It’s the same thing as saying ‘get hungry’. Alimenta Brasil is very important to us, I say clearly. Those who are hungry are in a hurry. The money was used to buy food, medicine, a matter of sustenance”, she says.
“In the crisis we are in today, anyone who used to eat a kilo of meat no longer eats. He only eats beans if he has them on his own farm. There’s a lot missing on the table and I don’t even talk about other items,” she says.
Support for urban agriculture was also almost extinct: a reduction of 95%, to R$ 25,000, between what was presented in the 2022 Budget for the 2023 Budget.
Porto says that, with the cut, families lose access to resources to implement residential or collective gardens, alternative food and for families in a situation of food insecurity.
Can stock values change? “The issue of food security has left this government’s agenda,” says Renato Maluf, a professor at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ) and coordinator of the Penssan Network, responsible for recent surveys on hunger in the country.
The Budget still needs to be voted on by Congress and sanctioned by the President of the Republic, which normally takes place in December.
Even if there is a change in the budget for some program, the document indicates the priorities for allocating public resources.
No funding for drinking water: Other programs targeting low-income populations with poor access to water were also neglected in the 2023 Budget.
An equipment program for access to water for consumption and food production was cut by 96%, to R$ 2.3 million.
Juliana Izidro, 33, lives with her husband and 12-year-old son at Lagoa do Gravatá, in Água Seca (Paraíba), and does not have a cistern. “It is a complicated situation. The only income we have is only from Auxílio Brasil. As my land is small and there is no water, I only plant what I can eat, there is no way to plant to sell”, she says.
Porto, from UFRB, says that the amount foreseen for 2023 is enough to build 140 cisterns for consumption. Estimates for universal access to water, he says, are much higher: at least 350,000 more cisterns for consumption and about a million for agricultural production. “This is the magnitude of the impact when the government practically runs out of resources for cisterns next year”, he says.
Government does not comment on cuts
The Ministry of Citizenship did not respond to questions sent by UOL about cuts in food and water access programs.