AlterNet.org: Chris Arsenault http://haswww.alternet.org/authors/chris-arsenault en The World's Biggest School Meal Program Is Keeping Local Farmers in Business http://haswww.alternet.org/food/school-meal-program-keeping-farmers-business <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1063182'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1063182" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Emphasizing local food under a radical policy of “zero hunger,” Brazil’s school lunch initiative helps small farmers buy the land they’ve been farming for generations.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://haswww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/16598422596_814e9cf57b_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>At an elementary school in Brazil’s capital, students are not too concerned about who has produced their food as they bite into an afternoon snack of pineapple and watermelon.</p><p>Nevertheless, they are among 45 million students benefiting from the world’s biggest universal school feeding program, whose meals are helping keep Brazil’s small farmers on their land.</p><p>Family farmers and cooperatives have seen their fortunes rise as a result of the program, which guarantees them a local market and has helped to expand formal land rights nationwide.</p><p>“Incomes have increased significantly because of it,” said Amanda Venturim, agricultural adviser to a cooperative of 56 small farmers outside Brasilia.</p><p>“The government makes a contract with us beforehand, so farmers know how much food they need to produce and how much they will receive,” said Venturim, standing beside vast grain elevators on the dry savannah that surrounds the capital.</p><p>The cooperative has been selling food to the government for school meals for three years, she said, enabling farmers to invest in new equipment and to retain control of their land.</p>Local preferences<p>First developed in the 1950s, Brazil’s school feeding initiative has expanded rapidly over the past decade or so as part of a successful push for “zero hunger” in Latin America’s most populous country.</p><p>About a quarter of Brazilians receive free meals under the program.</p><p>Brazil has about 5 million small farms, according to the U.N.’s Centre of Excellence Against Hunger in Brasilia. These farmers are some of the prime beneficiaries of hundreds of millions of dollars of government spending on school meals.</p><p>A 2009 law stipulates that authorities must spend at least 30 percent of their school meal budget on produce from smallholder farmers.</p><p>At the elementary school in south Brasilia, nutritionist Sumara de Oliveira Santana said the law is helping farmers to stay on the land because it encourages local production.</p><p>“Smallholder farmers and local producers have priority when we buy food for the schools,” said Santana as she supervised several dozen rowdy students during snack break.</p><p>For their part, the kids were not too concerned with the details of land politics.</p><p>“Pineapple is my favorite fruit for a snack,” said Anderson Souza, 7. “For lunch I like meat, but I don't know where all the food comes from.”</p>Landed farmers<p>Most of Brazil’s food—about 70 percent of what’s consumed in the country—comes from small farmers, according to the U.N. About <a href="http://www.bb.com.br/docs/pub/siteEsp/agro/dwn/CensoAgropecuario.pdf">three-quarters of these small farms</a> are owned by farmers who have official land title deeds, according to government data.</p><p>Access to a guaranteed market through the feeding program allows small farmers to keep control of their land, Venturim said.</p><p>Farmers say they now know roughly how much they will be earning each year and can apply for credit and other government support due to their participation in the initiative. It means they don’t have to migrate to cities in search of work, unlike many farmers in the developing world who leave their land in the hopes of earning more in the city. The program also helps farmers make decisions on investing in new seeds or technology because they can plan ahead on what crops they will grow by partnering with nutritionists like Santana.</p>Unique link<p>Across Brazil, more than 1 million small farms have no formal land title deeds, according to official data. These farmers simply occupy the land where they produce or live in settlements with no formal title, but even they benefit from the program.</p><p>Having a direct relationship with the state through the school feeding program helps small farmers and cooperatives to gain formal ownership over their land.</p><p>Many farmers who work with Venturim on the cooperative farm lease public land from the state, but they use their earnings from school meal contracts as a springboard to gain title deeds.</p><p>“We have a process going to receive final land titles,” Venturim said. “Now, we have a concession, but we would rather be owners.”</p><p>Formal title deeds can be difficult for small farmers to obtain; the process for formalizing land claims has been criticized as expensive, time-consuming, and bureaucratic.</p><p>As Brazil is mired in political crisis and suffers its worst recession since the 1930s, analysts see the school feeding program and its support for small farmers’ land rights as a rare bright spot for public policy.</p><p>“We believe this is an excellent example for other countries,” said Isadora Ferreira, a U.N. official who monitors the program. “The link with smallholder farmers is unique.”</p><p><em>This article was originally published by the <a href="http://news.trust.org/item/20160830090155-5pzuw" target="_self" title="">Thomson Reuters Foundation</a>.</em></p><p> </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1063182'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1063182" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 08 Sep 2016 09:19:00 -0700 Chris Arsenault, Yes! Magazine 1063182 at http://haswww.alternet.org Food Education Food World school lunch local food farmers brazil world education Are the Water Wars Coming? http://haswww.alternet.org/water/are-water-wars-coming <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '700458'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=700458" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Almost half of humanity will face water scarcity by 2030 and strategists from Israel to Central Asia prepare for strife.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://haswww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_107999030.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The author Mark Twain once remarked that "whisky is for drinking; water is for fighting over" and a series of reports from intelligence agencies and research groups indicate the prospect of a water war is becoming increasingly likely. </p><p>In March, a report from the office of the US Director of National Intelligence said the risk of conflict would grow as water demand is set to outstrip sustainable current supplies by 40 per cent by 2030.</p><p>"These threats are real and they do raise serious national security concerns," Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said after the report's release.</p><p>Internationally, 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water, according to the United Nations. By 2030, 47 percent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's <a href="http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/29/33/40200582.pdf">Environmental Outlook to 2030 report</a>.</p><p>Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources. </p><p><strong>Dangerous warnings</strong></p><p>Governments and military planners around the world are aware of the impending problem; with the US senate issuing reports with names like <em>Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan</em>.</p><p>"Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution," said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. "The world's water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs."With rapid population growth, and increased industrial demand, water withdrawls have tripled over the last 50 years, <a href="http://www.siwi.org/sa/node.asp?node=159">according to UN figures</a>.</p><p>"Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems," he told Al Jazeera.</p><p>Of all the water on earth, 97 per cent is salt water and the remaining three per cent is fresh, with less than one per cent of the planet's drinkable water readily accessible for direct human uses. Scarcity is defined as each person in an area having access to less than 1,000 cubic meters of water a year.</p><p>The areas where water scarcity is the biggest problem are some of the same places where political conflicts are rife, leading to potentially explosive situations.</p><p>Some experts believe the only documented case of a "water war" happened about 4,500 years ago, when the city-states of Lagash and Umma went to war in the Tigris-Euphrates basin.</p><p>But Adel Darwish, a journalist and co-author of Water Wars: Coming Conflicts in the Middle East, says modern history has already seen at least two water wars.</p><p>"I have [former Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon speaking on record saying the reason for going to war [against Arab armies] in 1967 was for water," Darwish told Al Jazeera.</p><p>Some analysts believe Israel continues to occupy the Golan heights, seized from Syria in 1967, due to issues of water control, while others think the occupation is about maintaining high ground in case of future conflicts.</p><p>Senegal and Mauritania also fought a war starting in 1989 over grazing rights on the River Senegal. And Syria and Iraq have fought minor skirmishes over the Euphrates River.</p><p><strong>Middle East hit hard</strong></p><p>UN studies project that 30 nations will be water scarce in 2025, up from 20 in 1990. Eighteen of them are in the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Israel, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. </p><p>Water shortages could cost the unstable country 750,000 jobs, slashing incomes in the poorest Arab country by as much as 25 per cent over the next decade, according to a report from the consulting firm McKinsey and Company produced for the Yemeni government in 2010. Darwish bets that a battle between south and north Yemen will probably be the scene of the next water conflict, with other countries in the region following suit if the situation is not improved.</p><p>Commentators frequently blame Yemen's problems on tribal differences, but environmental scarcity may be underpinning secessionist struggles in the country's south and some general communal violence.</p><p>"My experience in the first gulf war [when Iraq invaded Kuwait] is that natural resources are always at the heart of tribal conflicts," Darwish told Al Jazeera. </p><p>The Nile is another potential flash point. In 1989, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak threatened to send demolition squads to a dam project in Ethiopia.</p><p>"The Egyptian army still has jungle warfare brigades, even though they have no jungle," Darwish said. </p><p>On the Nile, cooperation would benefit all countries involved, as they could jointly construct dams and lower the amount of water lost to evaporation, says Anton Earle, director of the Stockholm International Water Institute think-tank.</p><p>"If you had an agreement between the parties, there would be more water in the system," he told Al Jazeera. The likelihood of outright war is low, he says,  but there is still "a lot of conflict" which "prevents joint infrastructure projects from going ahead".</p><p><strong>Differing views</strong></p><p>Water scarcity, and potential conflicts arising from it, is linked to larger issues of<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/crowdedplanet/" target="_blank"> population growth</a>, <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/feedingtheworld/" target="_blank">increasing food prices</a> and global warming.</p><p>There are two general views about how these problems could unfold. The first dates back to the work of Thomas Malthus, an eighteenth century British clergyman and author who believed that: "The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race."</p><p>In other words, more people and scant resources will invariably lead to discord and violence.</p><p>"Unequal power relations within states and conflicts between ethnic groups and social classes will be the greatest source of social tensions rising from deprivation," said Ignacio Saiz from the social justice group. "Water too often is treated as a commodity, as an instrument with which one population group can suppress another."Recent scholars, including Thomas Homer-Dixon, have analysed various case studies on environmental degradation to conclude that there is not a direct link between scarcity and violence. Instead, he believes inequality, social inclusion and other factors determine the nature and ferocity of strife.</p><p>Bolivia, South Africa, India, Botswana, <a href="http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2010/03/201032982731685235.html">Mexico</a> and even parts of the US have seen vigorous water related protests, says Maude Barlow, author of 16 books and a former senior adviser to the UN on water issues.</p><p>"The fight over water privatisation in Cochobamba, Bolivia did turn into a bit of a water war and the army was called in," Barlow told Al Jazeera. "In Botswana, the government smashed bore holes as part of a terrible move to remove [indigenous bushmen] from the Kalahari desert. Mexico City has been forcibly taking water from the countryside, confiscating water sources from other areas and building fotresses around it, like it's a gold mine. In India, Coke will get contracts and then build fortresses around the water sources," taking drinking and irrigation water away from local people. "In Detroit 45,000, officially, have already had their water cut off."</p><p><strong>Human rights</strong></p><p>Strife over water, like conflicts more generally, will increasingly happen within states, rather than between them, Barlow says, with large scale agribusiness, mining and energy production taking control over resources at the expense of other users.</p><p>The IPPC, the UN panel which <a href="http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/technical-papers/ccw/chapter1.pdf">analyses climate science</a>, concluded that: "Water and its availability and quality will be the main pressures on and issues for, societies and the environment under climate change."</p><p>Dealing with these pressures will require improved technologies, political will and new ideas about how humans view their relationship with the substance that sustains life.</p><p>"People have the right to expect access to a basic life resource like water by virtue of being human, regardless of the social situation they are born into," Saiz said. "Alongside the worrying development of water scarcity, I am hopeful that we will see increasing struggles to see access to water as a right, and not a priviledge."</p><p>You can follow Chris Arsenault on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/AJEchris" target="_blank">@AJEchris</a></p><p>  </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '700458'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=700458" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 28 Aug 2012 05:47:00 -0700 Chris Arsenault, Al Jazeera 700458 at http://haswww.alternet.org Water Water World water drought conflict