The return of the National Food and Nutrition Security Council (Consea) is one of the most recent and first measures taken by the Lula government (PT) in Brazil to fight hunger. Councils are spaces that bring together different representations of civil society to reflect and propose guidelines on various topics, a tool that aims to guarantee the participation of the people in government actions.
The return of Consea has had a positive impact on various social sectors and the Brazil in fact Pernambuco spoke with Valquíria Lima, who represents Articulação Semiárido Brasileiro (ASA) on the council, about the importance of this space for the Northeast.
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Brasil de Fato Pernambuco: The National Council for Food and Nutrition Security is back. What does this return represent specifically for the Northeast?
Valkyrie Lima: Consea has always been one of the great popular participation councils. It’s good that we always remember when it was constituted in 1993. A council that always included the participation of civil society, movements and always had a very present, very broad representation. Because we are going to discuss the right to food and everything related to that right, production, regional marketing, the participation of the most vulnerable populations and policies to combat hunger.
How can the Northeast, with its experiences of coexistence with the semi-arid region and many others, contribute to this debate at Consea?
When we say that it is one of the great food producers in peasant family farming, it is because we are also talking about this diversity. Here, we produce a variety of foods that go exactly to the tables of the Brazilian people. What the Brazilian semi-arid region and the Northeast need are adequate public policies, adequate financing. We, from Articulação com o Semiarido, have been working from the perspective that water is fundamental for food production in the region. So, we store rainwater, leverage this water possibility, to be able to produce healthy foods, which are the foods that family and peasant agriculture offers the Brazilian population.
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We live in a period of worsening hunger and after a pandemic, a period that came shortly after the extinction of Consea, in 2019 by the Bolsonaro government. What did Consea do in this regard?
Consea has always been a council that monitored the execution and implementation of policies aimed at producing healthy food and combating malnutrition. So, he missed the participation of this civil society in advocacy and social mobilization for the monitoring of these policies. As Consea was dismissed, so were other participation councils. Public policies such as the PAA, water access programs, PNAE and PRONAF were practically paralyzed. This greatly impacted the food production capacity of family farming and this led to a considerable increase in hunger.
What are the main policies that we have today in the country and that were proposed by CONSEA?
This advice arrives at the end, in the lunch lady who is at the school where the PAA is a program that comes from this struggle by Consea, which meant that 30% of the food that arrives at schools is bought from family farming. How does the cook produce a more qualified food with a more adequate nutritional value, a food that comes free of pesticides and is healthy? That will arrive at the table of these children and families. So, programs like the PAA, PNAE, Cisterns Program… Many rural school units were closed because they didn’t have water. We are talking about the Northeast and a good part of the Northeast is semi-arid. So, we are talking about extremely important programs for these communities that were born from the demands of Consea itself.
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What are Consea’s challenges in this return?
We cannot deny our reality, we have more than 33 million Brazilian men and women who are experiencing food insecurity. The most recent and emblematic situation that we have been following is that of the Yanomami people, which is very serious and drastic and which did not start now. Unfortunately, it only got stronger and we can say that this is what we want to fight, this negligence with this situation of food insecurity for these families.
Source: BdF Pernambuco
Editing: Elen Carvalho
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