National Fair

MST opens National Fair in Brazil bringing agrarian reform products from all over the country

Thousands of people went to Parque da Água Branca in São Paulo this Thursday; the free event runs until sunday
The Fair is full of organic food stalls, as well as handicrafts and books – MST / Reprodução

Por Gabriela Moncau/ Translated by: Lucas Peresin
From Brasil de Fato

“Here is where all of our communities meet”, describes, among the stalls at the National Agrarian Reform Fair, farmer Suely Oliveira, from Marielle Vive Camp. “You find your partners of struggle here, it is a fraternization, that makes me like this”, refers to the watery eyes: “I feel fulfilled by being part of this fight. Because I understand that today this is the path we have to follow”. 

This Thursday (11) began the activities of the Fair, which runs until Sunday (14) at Parque da Água Branca, in São Paulo. With 1,200 stallholders coming from 23 states of Brazil, the country’s biggest event for agrarian reform products aims to show, in practice, the living existence of an alternative model to that of agribusiness. 

The fourth edition of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) National Fair marks a return, after five years. Held for the first time in 2016, it also took place in 2017 and 2018. The following year, its realization was vetoed by João Doria (Brazilian Social Democracy Party), at the time governor of São Paulo.

With the interruption imposed by the covid-19 pandemic, the event returns now, at a time of attempt to criminalize land occupations with the MST Commission of Inquiry and pressure from the movement for the advancement of agrarian reform policies.  

“This is just the beginning”, assured a member of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) from the main stage of the event, which at the end of the afternoon received artists, including some from the MST itself. In fact, the schedule for the next few days is extensive. In addition to seminars and cultural activities throughout the park, there will be concerts by well-known names in Brazilian music, such as Jorge Aragão.

500 tons of food 

Those who went early to the event this Thursday could see, among the traditional chickens and peacocks that circulate freely in the park, the arrival of a public of different ages, including school excursions, alongside the stallholders who unloaded the last boxes from the trucks. The first section of stalls, dedicated to books, is adorned with a panel showing Maria Carolina de Jesus, Brazilian writer, composer and poet. In front of the stage, the food court brings together 30 kitchens serving 95 typical dishes from different Brazilian regions.

Advancing a little further, dozens of stalls with vegetables, corn, honey, cassava, babassu coconut, banana, pumpkin, spices, handicrafts, among many other agroecological products, give a colorful aesthetic to the fair.

The 4th edition of the National Agrarian Reform Fair was supplied by 56 carts of products from all regions of the country / Gabriela Moncau

Around there was Frei Betto, writer and activist of social and pastoral movements. “I always come to this fair, it really is very rich, varied and with high quality products. And it makes people reflect on the importance of agrarian reform. In other words, everything you have here comes from family farming. Organic, healthy. I hope this fair can be replicated in every Brazilian capital, it would be very important”, he said.  

“The future passes through here” 

If Frei Betto was present in all the last editions, Terezinha Matoso, a lady who was walking around wearing an MST hat, went to the event for the first time. “I’m loving the vibe of people, everyone wants to explain where they’re from, how they do it, so I’m finding it very interesting. I was getting the recipe for making puba porridge here,” she says.  

Around 120 MST cooperatives are present at the 4th National Agrarian Reform Fair / Gabriela Moncau

“It is important for people to know how these people live and work in the countryside, to demystify an image that some people try to paint. Those who don’t know [MST] don’t know what it is. So it’s cool to come to know what it is, ”she said.

Fabíola Pereira da Silva came from Settlement Palmares 2, in the city of Parauapebas, in the state of Pará. She came, along with her mother and sister, on a three-day trip to sell her wares at the Fair. She was still a child, she was four years old, when 29 years ago her family participated in the occupation of the territory that today – after being transformed into an agrarian reform settlement – gives them the ground to live and cultivate. In addition to products derived from cassava, such as tucupi and tapioca, the family of women from Pará produces cocoa, nuts, pumpkin, beans, cheese and seasonings such as saffron and paprika.  

“We seek to show here, in this great capital, that we, from the agrarian reform, are indeed capable of producing a lot and without pesticides, doing good for health. Look at the amount of food there,” Fabiola points around. “These foods are on display here, and the invitation is open for everyone to come”.

For an audience of thousands of people, Brazilian singer Zeca Baleiro wished “that more festivals like this could happen, that integrate more and more society, to demystify this madness that surrounds the movement. The future of Brazil passes through here”. 

Edited by: Flávia Chacon e Rodrigo Durão Coelho