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Agriculture ministry gains control of Brazilian indigenous lands

Bolsonaro, the new far-right president of Brazil, has given the Agriculture Ministry responsibility for “identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people”, according to Reuters. Environmentalists are concerned that the Amazon rainforest will be opened to greater commercial exploitation.

Human rights organisation Survival International commented (source) “Tereza Cristina, the new head of the Ministry, has long opposed tribal land rights, and championed the expansion of agriculture into indigenous territories. This is an assault on the rights, lives and livelihoods of Brazil’s first peoples – if their lands are not protected, they face genocide, and whole uncontacted tribes could be wiped out.”

Meanwhile, the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (a national association of entities representing the indigenous peoples of Brazil) has called for an inquiry (source, in Portuguese).

According to Reuters, Bartolomeu Braz of Aprosoja (a grain growers association) said “The new rules will be interesting to the farmers and the Indians, some of whom are already producing soybeans. The Indians want to be productive too.”

Read the full story here (Reuters) or here (Telegraph). See also the Foodsource building block What is land use and land use change? and the FCRN entry Political threats to Brazil’s environment.

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Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean occupies the central and southern portion of the Americas. The region is home to the world’s largest river (the Amazon River), the largest rainforest (the Amazon Rainforest), and the longest mountain range (the Andes). Export-oriented agriculture constitutes an important part of the economy, especially in Brazil and Argentina. This large continent has a range of climates spanning the ice of Patagonia, the tropical forests of much of the continent, and more temperate regions in, for example, Mexico and Chile. Due to the greatly differing geography and economic development in the continent, all types of agriculture can be found in Latin America. Subsistence farming and cash cropping with coffee, cocoa and so on are common in many nations including most of central America, whereas large-scale beef production in the cerrado of Brazil provides an example of hyper-large farms run by large businesses.

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