Feeding the world: the emergence of the modern agricultural economy in Brazil, launch of FGV Editora in co-edition with the Official Press, explains how and why agricultural modernization occurred and how Brazil evolved from a single-producer coffee exporter to an important producer of the planet, positioned among the five largest in the world.
The rise of Brazil as an agricultural power can be considered one of the most important events in the history of the modern world. From 1960, with the beginning of this evolution, Brazil began to change its condition of importer and small exporter to reach the position of largest net exporter of food in the world today, whose absence in this market would result in a drastic reduction in the supply of products to the planet.
This advance to the position of world power only occurred recently, because until the middle of the 20th century Brazil had a traditional agricultural economy, using simple technology, without machines and with constant use of virgin soils as the main lever of agriculture - in which fertilizers were not applied nor insecticides -, it operated with unskilled labor, low productivity and negligible agricultural credit.
A crucial period analyzed by the authors for this “revolution” began with an important change in government policies that began in the 1960s and strengthened during the military regime (1964 - 1985), when there was a major capital injection in the rural world and there was direct intervention government in the commercialization of agricultural products, in addition to the creation of Embrapa, one of the largest agricultural research institutions in the world, as well as a national program for agricultural mechanization and the modernization of the chemical industry.
The impact of the government's partial withdrawal from this market in the crises of the 1980s and the subsequent impact of the adoption of free trade in the 1990s are also important points of this analysis, as these periods of crisis have severely affected the agricultural sector and forced a reorganization of the commercialization and integration with new sources of credit, which benefited the robust growth of this sector - paradoxically to the difficulties that the national industry, main concern of the governments until then, started to face with the opening to the world market without obtaining the same successes.
Currently, Brazil has mechanized commercial agriculture, advanced research programs and specialized professionals, and is a major global consumer of fertilizers and insecticides, in addition to having access to credit from the public and private sectors, which provides for fair and successful competition in the face of world market.
With a panoramic assessment that allows an analysis of how and why Brazil became a global agricultural producer, the authors demonstrate that “this agricultural revolution has occurred and continues to evolve without the need for further expansion of land and the deforestation of the rain forest. . Mining and illegal logging in the Amazon, although they are a major problem for Brazil and the world, are not fundamental to the modern commercial sector of the national economy. ”
The original work Feeding the World: Brazil's Transformation Into a Modern Agricultural Economy received an Honorable Mention from the United States Business History Conference.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
FRANCISCO VIDAL LUNA holds a doctorate in Economics from the University of São Paulo (USP), where he retired as an assistant professor, also served as a researcher and professor at the Institute for Economic Research (IPE) and the Foundation Institute for Economic Research (FIPE). Among the areas he dedicated to are Brazilian Economy, Economic History, Historical Demography, Public Finance and Financial Administration. In the public sector, he was Secretary of Planning and Special Secretary for Economic Affairs of the Secretariat of Planning of the Presidency of the Republic, Secretary of State of São Paulo for Economy and Planning and Secretary of Planning for the city of São Paulo.
HERBERT S. KLEIN is an American historian, professor and researcher. He holds a BA and PhD from the University of Chicago. He taught at Columbia University and was a professor of history and director of the Center for Latin American Studies, researcher and curator of the Latin America collection at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University. Author or co-author of more than 20 books on Latin America and on comparative themes in social and economic history, among recent publications are comparative studies on slavery.
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