, VI Conference of BRICS Initiative of Critical Agrarian Studies

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Brazil’s Humanitarian Food Cooperation (2003-2016): from innovative experience to the politics of traditional aid
Thiago Lima

Last modified: 2018-12-14


Brazil donated food abroad on previous occasions, but an institutionalized humanitarian food aid policy was something innovative in its History. The magnitude was also noteworthy, as the country became one of the six largest donors to the World Food Program (WFP). At first, the Executive’s proposal was to connect the produce of Brazilian small family farming to an international humanitarian policy. However, the Executive didn’t manage to get the necessary legal framework for that plan from the National Congress. Instead, the Legislative passed a law that, in practice, privileged the donation of food produced by large agribusiness farms. The agreement between the two branches allowed Brazil to become one of the main world donors of food for a few years, accomplishing some objectives of the Workers’ Party governments, but resulted in a public policy very different from the original intent. Based on interviews and document analyzes, the research concluded that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office called CGFome had the power to initiate the agenda, but it didn’t have enough political strength to move its preferred policy through Congress. However, when economic incentives changed, the Ruralistas (the legislative caucus of the large-scale agribusiness) entered the agenda and moved it forward very quickly, making it possible for Brazil to become one of the biggest donors in the world. The case showed the domestic political limitations of what could have been an international cooperation different from that of the traditional donors, which used to source their international food aid in the surplus stocks, something profoundly criticized by most of food aid specialists.


Food Aid; Brazilian Foreign Policy; Humanitarian Cooperation; Ruralists Caucus; Zero Hunger