The proposal to revise the Master Plan of the municipality of Rio de Janeiro has been harshly criticized by urban farmers who do not feel included in the city planning presented in the preliminary version of the document finalized this year.
In the city of Rio, farmers are located in neighborhoods such as Santa Cruz, Campo Grande, Vargem Grande, Guaratiba, Sepetiba, located in the West Zone, and also in neighborhoods like Manguinhos and Complexo da Penha, in the North Zone. Among the problems listed by rural workers is the non-recognition of the Rio de Janeiro capital as a territory that also grows food.
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The invisibility of urban farmers by the government generates a lack of efficient public policies to support agricultural production that supplies the main agro-ecological fairs in Rio. Bernadete Montesano is a farmer and is part of the Rio de Janeiro Urban Agriculture Network. According to her, the draft of the Plan does not even mention the word food, which indicates the policy’s disregard for family farmers in the municipality.
“In the Master Plan, the situation in Rio appears as an entirely urbanized territory, there is no rural area. There is a very big identity crisis. It’s worse than prejudice. It’s you not existing. It is as if these farmers do not exist and produce in their cities. It is a conflict that we live. What we want is for there to be this recognition and for it to take place in a way in which male and female farmers develop their work in a qualified manner and with respect for this identity of worker and producer in their city”, he explains.
The municipality’s Master Plan is an instrument for drafting urban policy and is reviewed every 10 years. The process of reviewing the latest version began in 2018. A year later, the City of Rio initiated contact with different sectors of civil society to review the city’s development policy, which culminated in the latest version of the planning mentioned by Bernadette.
The numbers show that people who depend on agriculture to survive have been gradually increasing in the capital. Data from the Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Company (Emater-Rio) indicate that, officially, there are around 1,500 farmers engaged in the trade of rural products, registered in the municipality. According to the company’s survey, organic and agroecological agriculture has registered an increase of around 15% to 25% per year.
Sandra Kokudai is part of the Ecological Network, which for 20 years has stimulated conscientious consumption and also acts as a parliamentary advisor to councilor Reimont (PT), who presides over the Carioca Food Security and Agriculture Parliamentary Front. According to her, today, one of the main obstacles for family farmers is the municipality’s fiscal policy.
“A great difficulty for farmers is the recognition of agricultural territories in the city of Rio in fiscal policies to guarantee the right to payment of the Rural Land Tax (ITR) on properties with rural and not exclusively agricultural uses, as well as to withdraw the Declaration of Aptitude for the National Program for Strengthening Family Agriculture (DAP), necessary for institutional marketing”, highlights the architect, who draws attention to the need for basic sanitation throughout the municipality as essential for the production of quality food.
“It is also necessary to recognize the right to ‘Live and Plant’ in the city, guaranteeing land security, better housing conditions, well-implemented basic sanitation and access to quality water for consumption and for planting”, he emphasizes.
The delay in the development of public policies for Rio’s small producers has been notorious for years. Despite being from 2019, the law establishing the Municipal Policy to Support Urban and Periurban Agriculture has not yet been implemented.
In its text, the law establishes, for example, “the promotion of agroecological practices aiming at the least impact on the environment, including impact on the soil, management of water resources, workers’ health, pollution generated by transport, among others”.
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In addition to fighting for the implementation of the law to support urban agriculture, Rio de Janeiro farmers also work towards the approval and regulation of Bill 1854/2020, which deals with the Carioca Circuit of Organic Fairs and consolidates, at the municipal level, concepts about the organic system of agricultural production.
Recently, the city hall transferred the fair circuit from the Municipal Department of Labor and Income (SMTR) to the Municipal Department of Public Order (SEOP) and now has a more supervisory character.
In order to broaden the debate on the importance of urban agriculture, the Rio de Janeiro Agroecology Articulation (AARJ) and the Rio de Janeiro Urban Agriculture Network (CAU Network), with the support of the Agroecology Initiative in the Municipalities, which is an action of the National Coordination of Agroecology (ANA), organized the roundtable “The city also plants” with the aim of reflecting on the city’s development model from the critical point of view of the organizations and producing families.
The first meeting takes place this Tuesday (21), at 6 pm, and has as its theme the Master Plan for the city of Rio. In all, there will be four wheels. The other three will deal with the supply and marketing of agricultural products; urban agriculture and, finally, land and territory.
Source: BoF Rio de Janeiro
Edition: Mariana Pitasse