MST Fair

MST Fair ends after 4 days of activities and more than 320,000 people in downtown São Paulo

MST brought agrarian reform production from all over Brazil and other countries, including more than 500 tons of food
1,700 traders came from all over Brazil to participate in the fair – Daniel Violal/MST

By Rodrigo Chagas e Nicolau Soares/ Translated by: Lucas Peresin
From Brasil de Fato

Cocoa, açaí, pequi, cheese, salami, cachaça, plantain, corn. More than 560 tons of 1730 different types of products, brought to São Paulo by 1700 vendors from all over Brazil and sold to more than 320 thousand people over four days. All produced by settled families from the agrarian reform, who conquered their land through the struggle organized by the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST).

The numbers give an idea of the size of the MST’s 4th National Agrarian Reform Fair, which ended this Sunday night (14), in Parque da Água Branca, in the western region of São Paulo.

The food court served 80,000 meals over the four days. Traditional dishes from all over the country, produced with food coming from the agrarian reform.

Seedling nursery gathered medicinal, native and food species from different MST territories / @pdepetralha13/MST

For farmer Giselda Coelho Pereira, from the 26 de Março settlement, in Marabá (state of Pará), the success of the fair is already making the space small. “The fair is growing with each edition. It is a growing movement of public but also of farmers’ participation. Every year more farmers and more cooperatives arrive at the fair to establish these commercialization and knowledge exchange relationships,” the national leader of the MST’s production sector told Brasil de Fato.

“Our cultural richness was represented in all spaces, in cuisine, in agroecological production that shows that it is possible to do agriculture in another way, but also in poetry. This is the fair’s richness of expression”, stressed the director.

Art and culture present

On the closing Sunday, a mega-show. More than 300 artists passed through the fair and shared their music, poetry, drama, dance and various forms of artistic expression over the course of four days.

Anelis, who directed the closing night show, celebrated the political stance of the artists who performed at the event. In an interview with Brasil de Fato, she spoke about the role of culture and music in social transformation.

“I think this is the place where we create an intersection with the MST. The cultural movement in Brazil is as pluralistic and complex as the movement of the land. The monoculture, the reductionist thinking of art in the country… Music can be that fastest arrow, perhaps, of communication.”

The maracatu Ouro do Congo was one of the dozens of artistic expressions that were presented during the fair / @TaysonCordeiro/MST

To Brasil de Fato, the singer Liniker declared her admiration for the work of the MST exhibited during the Fair. “It is very, very beautiful and it is very important to come and see this fair of this size, with so many people, with so much abundance and prosperity. I think we are at this moment of regaining prosperity after everything we have been through in relation to politics in Brazil.”

The singer Josyara also valued the experience at the Fair. “You arrive and stop by the Bahia tent, for example, and pick up a good palm oil and eat good food, because food also lights up those good things in us.”

“We reconnect with many inspirations, not only artistic, but our own life, human as well”, concluded the singer.

From the territory to the fair

“It is important to say that there is no agrarian reform without fighting for land”, emphasizes Giselda Pereira. “All that is here is a sample of what is territorialized in 23 states, with 450,000 families. We had the participation of more than 1,700 farmers who came from the territories, and these territories are the result of a lot of struggle.”

“This is a baobab seedling. It’s a bit bruised from the trip”, says Jéssica Vitória, one of the exhibitors at the fair. She traveled for three days from Recife to São Paulo – and the plants took even longer to arrive. 

The baobab seedlings are the result of the Roçado Solidário, developed by the Mãos Solidárias project in a space provided in the Che Guevara Settlement, in Morena, 40 minutes from the capital of the state of Pernambuco.

The space is a nursery for native seedlings, grown on land provided by the settlement. Jessica’s group also brought pitaya, blackberry and other seedlings from settlements in the region, such as Normandia settlement, in Caruaru.

“Here at the fair, the baobab sold the most, due to this bond of resistance. It is a plant that came from Africa”, she comments. “We even sell it to some people from religious terreiros of African origin, since there is this issue that the baobab carries this ancestry. People who are starting farms, agroforestry, so it was very good.”

If the trip was difficult, the experience at the fair was great for Jessica. “This marketing process is still something very new, because we, as settlers, did not have this opportunity to know how our product reaches the table of the city people”, she analyzes. “It was a very strong experience for me, it was very interesting.”

Another positive point for Jessica was the exchanges between the stallholders from different parts of the country. “We exchanged seedlings, seeds, from different biomes to experiment. The baobab is even one of them, which is described as more tropical, but we are also wanting to do this experience, see if it also adapts in the south of the state of Minas Gerais, or in São Paulo”, for example.

Fábio Ramos Nunes also ended his participation satisfied with the result of the fair. “This last day improved a lot in terms of sales. We did some promotions and ended up selling a lot. We brought about 7 tons of product and I think we’re going to sell about 5 tons. We are also closing the sale agreements for warehouses with the trade people here so that we can keep a part. Economically, it was worth it”, analyzes him, who is president of Cooperana, Cooperative of Peasant Agriculture in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte.

“It is an important space for exchanging experience with other cooperatives throughout Brazil. We learn a lot of new things in a very wide range of products and organizational ways as well. Not to mention the cultural part, which is fantastic, many people from the capital of São Paulo and also from all over Brazil participating, many cultural attractions, seminars, it was very important, cool”, he evaluates.

Final act

The event’s final act, this Sunday morning, was attended by authorities such as ministers, deputies and a governor, as well as activists such as Sheikh Rodrigo Jalloul and Father Júlio Lancelotti, who blessed the 38 tons of food donated to assistance organizations from São Paulo.

“In the context of the humanitarian crisis that we are experiencing in São Paulo, this fair is a sign of hope”, said Father Júlio Lancelotti, referring to the amount of people living on the streets in the capital of São Paulo. “At this moment, the word is one of gratitude and encouragement. Our fight is worth it, and we cannot give up. Occupy, produce, resist and outbrave.”

MST carries out the “Cultivating Solidarity” action with the donation of more than 25 tons of healthy food / Guilherme Gandolfi @guifrodu

The resistance mentioned by the priest is reinforced in the current context, in which the movement suffers attacks with a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) in Congress, a new wave of criminalization in the media, in addition to an intensification of conflicts in the countryside in several states. 

“It’s no use for anyone to tell us that we can’t occupy land, because we’re going to continue occupying it to continue carrying out agrarian reform, the fair, to fight for democracy and access to land”, said deputy Valmir Assunção (Workers’ Party – state of Bahia).

“We are going to face a CPI. It is not the first, it is the fifth CPI that we are going to face. And we are going to face it by dialoguing with the whole of society. We fight to comply with Article 16 of the Constitution and to build a more equal society. We are going to show who is grabbing land in Brazil, who evades taxes, how agribusiness reproduces in this country”, he defended.

A fellow countryman from Assunção, Bahian governor Jerônimo Rodrigues (Workers’ Party) celebrated the strength of the event. “A party like this, a fair like this, rescues in its fourth edition a commitment to an inclusion project. It is very clear when we pass by the stands of each state that our life is not easy. The life of indigenous peoples, the landless, women, youth, LGBTQIA+ communities”, said the governor of the state of Bahia. “This here is actually a fourth edition of resistance”, he summarized.

Father Júlio Lancellotti in his speech during the food donation ceremony/ National Fair of Agrarian Reform Communication

“This fair is an example for Brazil that it is possible, through agrarian reform and family farming, to produce food, quality food at a fair price”, said Paulo Pimenta, Minister of the Social Communication Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic (Secom). “The most important task, which is Lula’s obsession, is to give back to the Brazilian people the right to eat three meals a day. It is not possible for a rich country like ours to live with a reality in which 33 million people go hungry, and other millions don’t know what they’re going to eat the next day.”

“João Pedro, you should hold a fair there in Brasilia, to show people in the National Congress that the movement is producing”, said Minister Marcio Macedo, from the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic.

Responsible for conducting consultations for the participatory construction of the Pluriannual Plan (PPA), Macedo exalted the importance of listening to organized movements. “It is important that the Landless Workers’ Movement be present, as well as the National Confederation of Agricultural Workers, the Homeless Workers’ Movement, and organized movements throughout Brazil. So that these next 4 years have the fingerprints of the Brazilian people”, he defended.

Edited by: Flávia Chacon e Vivian Virissimo