In the region, there was a paradigm shift in the concept of public investment policies for rural areas at the beginning of the 21st century, redefining the role family farms play in reducing poverty.
Photo: J. Boethling

16.06.2014

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For a long time, the agricultural policies of the Mercosur states ignored family farming, focusing on promoting individual crops and export production instead. Rural development was not on the agenda. Only after the turn of the millennium did a process of rethinking set in.

In the early 2000s it was not easy to find recognition of the existence of family farming in our region. Agricultural producers were large, medium and small, technically advanced – capitalised, or engaged in self-subsistence and decidedly poor and part of the problem that the lack of rural development posed.

Farming and/or agricultural policies were “vertical”, organised by produce types. Technologies were available for wheat, cattle, soy or rice and there were credits for wheat, sunflower, citrus or the dairy production. That was how the policies, instruments and resources were organised. They reached top-down to the territories individually, and were oriented towards those producers with the corresponding technical or market conditions, or with previous accumulation, and capable of receiving the instruments and adopting them as their own.

Family farming was not even recognised as an economic category of accumulation, as a social category of rural development, or as a productive category responsible for the production of a more than relevant share of the food consumed in the countries in question and worldwide.

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