Family farming lacks technical assistance, credit and commercialization, according to TCU
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The Federal Court of Accounts - Brazil (TCU) carried out a survey of the Brazilian agribusiness, especially in family farming, which was examined by the TCU Plenary. Reported by Minister Vital do Rêgo, the work is part of a broader analysis, a Centralized Guidance Audit (FOC). The purpose of this audit is to identify dysfunctions in the bureaucracy that may have negative impacts on the business environment and on the competitiveness of productive agents, to the detriment of national development.
The emphasis on family farming is justified because "it represented 84% of the rural establishments, with 24.3% of the agribusiness area, 60% of the personnel employed in the field and accounted for 70% of the food on the table of the Brazilians. In addition, it is estimated that family farming in Brazil is the basis of the economy of 90% of municipalities with up to 20,000 inhabitants", explained Vital do Rêgo, using data from 2006.
The Court focused on a set of various data related to the subject of agribusiness. However, three topics that represent a major part of the sustainability of family farming were analyzed more deeply: technical assistance and rural extension; financing of production (rural family credit); commercialization of products. The work was based on face-to-face meetings with various agencies and entities, and the application of questionnaires to cooperatives and family farming associations. We compared the data collected with the information recorded by previous audits of the Court. Based on what was verified, the auditors summarized the main risks and points that require attention.
With regard to technical assistance and rural extension, the audit found that coordination is precarious. Supply is insufficient and has low continuity. In addition, the assistance structure is of insufficient quality and there is a deficiency in the current system of public notices.
When analyzing the National Rural Credit System (SNCR), the Court's team verified the absence of a long-term agricultural policy. The regulatory framework is complex and poorly structured. There is bureaucracy both in the concession and in the operationalization of rural credit. There are several difficulties faced by rural family farmers to access rural credit, including little representation of rural insurance.
Regarding the commercialization of family farming products, the TCU pointed out that resources were reduced in the Food Acquisition Program. The National Supply Company (Conab) and the Secretariat of Family Farming and Agrarian Development (Sead) have no access to databases of other federal agencies. There is a considerable risk of non-compliance with the percentage of 30% of purchases of family farming products under the National School Food Program (PNAE). In addition to other risks related to the implementation of traceability along the production chain of fresh vegetable products.
In order to find solutions to the situation, the Federal Court of Accounts recommended to the Civil House of the Presidency of the Republic to prioritize the regulation of a law that has already been approved on the inspection of artisanal food products of animal origin. Consideration should also be given to the different understandings of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply as well as those of the Secretariat of Family Farming and Agrarian Development regarding the duties of sanitary inspection and the legal and economic insecurities that may arise from the immediate application of the new law.