The comments presented by the debaters bring very important reflections on the exercise of dialogue between the different sectors and, as well stated, it is not possible to speak of intersectoral mechanisms without reclaiming the historical contextcontext, specifically from 2003 on, when actions in food and nutritional security were included as a priority on Brazil’s social development agenda and the discussions spearheaded by Brazilian National Council for Food and Nutritional Security (CONSEA) and the presence of the Zero Hunger Strategy made it possible to put into practice intersectoral mechanisms in the areas of the fight against hunger and food and nutrition.
In the context of food and nutrition security, the Brazilian National School Feeding Program (PNAE) takes the opposite approach to the predominant agrifood model in Brazil. It’s believed that the policies targeted specifically to family farming help respond to the problems of the population’s food and nutrition insecurity, particularly of the most vulnerable groups. As emphasized in the article, some studies on the link between PNAE and family farming have already identified positive results: increases in income and better living conditions of farmers, crop diversification and increases in production, and improvements in school feeding with a greater supply of fruits and vegetables.
Besides, in addition to promoting economic activities such as employment and income generation, school feeding programs are already recognized, in Brazil and in many other countries, as an important health and education strategy for the promotion of food and nutrition security, food sovereignty, environmental preservation and fight against social inequality 11. Sanches A, Veloso N, Ramírez A. Agricultura familiar y compras públicas: inovaciones en la agenda de la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional. In: Salcedo S, Guzmán L, editores. Agricultura familiar en América Latina y el Caribe: recomendaciones de política. Santiago: Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura; 2014. p. 348-68..
Finally, it is understood that the construction, implementation, and execution of policies are the result of a a set of highly complex factors. In this sense, it is important to take advantage of moments of social and institutional change (debate, forums, governments) that allow the legitimacy, recognition and adequate use of resources. According to Hawkes et al. 22. Hawkes C, Brazil BG, Castro IRR, Jaime PC. How to engage across sectors: lessons from agriculture and nutrition in the Brazilian School Feeding Program. Rev Saúde Pública 2016; 50:47. and Grisa & Schneider 33. Grisa C, Schneider S. Políticas públicas de desenvolvimento rural no Brasil. Porto Alegre: Editora da UFRGS; 2015., coalitions of actors and sectors that succeed in taking advantage of such opportunities can generate new public policies on the government agenda.
Therefore, intersectoral mechanisms must be encouraged and strengthened by the development of a common agenda that reflects, in a coordinated way, the different interests, objectives and principles of the various actors and institutions involved, without fear of incorporating bold ideas, as was reported by some actors in this study. Although Brazil has a set of public policies targeted to family farming, it is still necessary to strengthen the dialogue and to formulate coordinated agendas among the agriculture, education and health sectors, in the various levels.
The two debaters underscore the importance of Brazil’s strides in the establishment of policies related to food and nutrition security, to PNAE, to public food procurement, among other related to these issues. Adjustments and improvements are still necessary, specifically in purchases from family farming by PNAE, ranging from improvements in infrastructure and staff training in schools, technical assistance and improvement of farmers’ capacities, resolution of bottlenecks in delivery logistics, and training nutritionists in the development of nutritionally adequate menus that reflect local farm production and food culture.
In addition, as discussed in the article and by the debaters, the procurement products of family farming is just one of the strategies of PNAE, and it should be accompanied by many others established by the program, such as food and nutrition education in a continuous and comprehensive, included in the school curriculum, educational school gardens, strengthening of social control, among others.
It is also important to have more quantitative and qualitative monitoring and evaluation studies of PNAE that assess the nutritional status and food consumption of the students and the nutritional quality of the menus offered. It would also be important to develop methodologies to measure and evaluate the effect of agrarian and educational policies on the on the health of its beneficiaries. Only through the provision of robust evidence can policymakers prioritize the most effective way of ensuring that interventions targeting these sectors actually lead to improvements in the health and education of the Brazilian population for the future.
Without a doubt, the strategy to link family farming to government purchases, more specifically to the PNAE, constitutes an important step towards strengthening food and nutritional security and achievement of the human right to adequate food, both for farmers and the beneficiaries of school feeding. Brazil was one of the pioneers in the implementation of this initiative and has even served as a model for other countries. As pointed out in the article and mentioned by the debaters, this strategy is not exempt from challenges and there are still several bottlenecks to be solved, especially at the local level. However, there is no doubt about the strides made and the positive effects, and it is necessary to guarantee the essential human and financial resources to make further progress and to prevent setbacks.
- 1Sanches A, Veloso N, Ramírez A. Agricultura familiar y compras públicas: inovaciones en la agenda de la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional. In: Salcedo S, Guzmán L, editores. Agricultura familiar en América Latina y el Caribe: recomendaciones de política. Santiago: Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura; 2014. p. 348-68.
- 2Hawkes C, Brazil BG, Castro IRR, Jaime PC. How to engage across sectors: lessons from agriculture and nutrition in the Brazilian School Feeding Program. Rev Saúde Pública 2016; 50:47.
- 3Grisa C, Schneider S. Políticas públicas de desenvolvimento rural no Brasil. Porto Alegre: Editora da UFRGS; 2015.
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