Authorities, representatives of social and cultural movements, and an appreciative audience gathered in Belo Horizonte for the opening of the Farmers’ Market Shop, another permanent space for sale of products from Land Reform farms.
The shop occupies a prime location in the capital city of Minas Gerais, on the corner of Avenida Augusto de Lima, in the Barro Preto neighbourhood, close to the Contorno inner ring-road. “I think it’s a wonderful place. I’m always looking for produce from family farms and to have it here, in this part of the city, really makes it easy for us to get them. And, what’s more, it breaks with the agribusiness model which relies on monoculture and destroys the natural environment. For me, as a resident of Belo Horizonte, it’s wonderful to have this market here.” So says retired bank-worker Luciana Pereira.
Sônia Maranho, from the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), underlines the political importance of the opening of this farmers’ market in Belo Horizonte. “This is not just any market. It’s a market redolent of struggle, of history, of resistance, and of the effort to build a popular alternative for Brazil, something the MST has been working on for so many years. And to build such an alternative now, at this time of political coup, of the crisis of capitalism, makes it doubly important to build links with the urban centres, where the majority of the population live. So, to open this market is to launch a project of politicisation, and of unity between city and countryside. It will provide a space for us rural dwellers and for the urban population to begin to understand the importance of this struggle for the whole of Brazil.
During Saturday morning (25 November), various public figures visited the Market, including former minister Nilmário Miranda and the former PT state deputies Rogério Correia and Dr. Jean Freire. “I can’t help feeling emotional,” said Freire. “I come from Vale do Jequitinhonha. Both of my parents were rural workers. I can see here this organic produce, fruit of the skills that so many farm labourers must use to work the land and use its water. This shows what the MST is, what it can do, the importance of the struggle for Land Reform.”
“We can go through a whole lifetime without needing a doctor or an engineer, but we need the skills of farm workers at least three times every day: for our morning coffee, our lunch, our dinner. That’s why it is essential to value peasant agriculture, because it gives us the hope to continue the fight for our country,” said Dr Freire, as he filled a basket with produce to take home.
The experience of the Farmers Market is also helping to promote other healthy food initiatives. Jeferson Silva, Coordinator of the Electricians’ Union (Sindielectro), stated that the union plans to help widen the distribution of Land Reform produce in the workplace. “We’ve already started talks on taking some of this produce to be sold in our places of work,” he said, “to show the people of Belo Horizonte and our trade, the electricians, the importance of the Land Reform and all the work of the MST.”
The Farmers’ Market offers a great variety of produce, with more than 250 items at prices affordable for the local population. On Saturday and Sunday (25-26 November) to mark the opening of the Market, there were cultural events, country cooking and a craft fair, all part of the state capital’s contribution to the Minas Gerais Circle of the Art and Culture of the Land Reform.
Translated from Portuguese by Mike Gatehouse. You can read the original here.