30 years of agroecology and the “Zero Hunger Programme” in Brazil

In 1978, in reaction to the Green Revolution, the Evangelical Church founded CAPA (the Support Centre for Small Farmers) as a counselling organisation for small-scale farmers in the south of Brazil. Many local farming families had emigrated from Germany in the 19th century and worked on farms of between one and twenty hectares in size. The farmers did not want to follow the agroindustrial growth-oriented model with its monocultures and agrochemicals, either for financial reasons or for ethical considerations.
CAPA focuses on a model which would today be called agroecology, organic farming or food sovereignty. Once an organisation recommended to poor families by priests, CAPA is today an independent organisation with 52 employees, advising approximately 7,000 families. CAPA’s main principle is to enable a family to produce enough to feed itself and to cultivate a sufficient variety of products on its land. It also aims to ensure that each food producer has market access for goods produced using agroecology: farmers are unlikely to shift away from cash crops if they cannot guarantee an income from this alternative form of food production.

CAPA developed different marketing channels for agroecological produce. This was initially done through cooperatives and farmers markets.
In 2000, CAPA convinced the regional government of São Lourenço, south of Porto Alegre, to start a pilot project: to prepare school meals (which are subsidised by the state) exclusively from produce grown by local small-scale farmers using agroecological production. The Lula government supported the approach of promoting both a healthy diet and fair prices for local farmers by introducing the Zero Hunger (Fome Zero) and a new school meals programme, which later became both a nationwide breakthrough.

The ingredients for at least 30 per cent of the currently 47 million school and kindergarten meals per day have to be supplied by the 4.3 million local small-scale farmers. In areas where CAPA is working, small-scale farmers often provide 100 per cent of the products. Limits of produce that can be sold make it only attractive for small farmers to supply the school feeding programme. Many farmers supply the schools directly and take part in the preparation of the meals. Healthy school meals depend on variety and the same holds true for the self-sufficiency of farms. Kindergardens and schools have now become an important market for small farmers and with that also for the concept of food sovereignty that stands behind the programme.

Speach by Daniele (CAPA)

Listen to the speach of Daniele who works for CAPA or read the transcript

Read more on Fome Zero

The Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) Program: The Brazilian Experience. FAO (2011)


Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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