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Negotiated Agrarian Reform in Brazil: principles and practice1

Gerd Sparovek and Rodrigo Fernando Maule

University of SРіo Paulo

Paper presented at - "Land Redistribution: Towards a Common Vision, Regional Course, Southern Africa, 9-13 July 2007"

SARPN acknowledges the World Bank as a source of this paper:
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The Brazilian Negotiated Agrarian Reform (NAR) went through four generations since its beginning as pilot project in 1997, a national consolidation phase in 1999, and present time of intensified implementation. During these 10 years, NAR experienced periods of greater and smaller intensity, different institutional designs; distinct arrangements and partnership with World Bank, and diverse engagement of the State and social movements.

Regarding an international scenario, the initial concept of NAR originated by the document Land Reform Policy Paper in 1975 (WORLD BANK, 1975, DEININGER & BINSWANGER, 1999), and was operationally first implemented in Colombia in 19942. Resembling the Brazilian case, the practical adoption of these principles was carried out worldwide under different institutional arrangements, political designs, motivations, operating rules, targeting and also variable results. In some cases (e.g. Colombia, Brazil, Malawi, Guatemala and Honduras) World Bank partially supported the initiatives. The Brazilian experience with NAR is worldwide the most comprehensive, long standing and diverse. In at least two periods, independent surveys covered important issues related to its results and impacts. Also, in Brazil the NAR is applied parallel to a wide program of State led Agrarian Reform (SAR); thus allowing some comparative analysis. The understanding of the Brazilian case is therefore important, because it permits the assessment of potentialities and restrictions of NAR, in a scenario where the model is mature and comprehensively adopted. This is in special valid considering poverty alleviation aspects.

This article aims to present a synthesis of the historical origin of Agrarian Reform in Brazil, with focus on the period during which NAR was initiated. It also describes the main NAR periods, followed by empirical survey results that covered each period. The conclusion part of the text synthesizes the objectives achieved by NAR in Brazil, the weak and the strong points of its performance, and also suggests some challenges to be faced in order to improve the model.

  1. This paper has been prepared for the workshop “Land Redistribution in Africa: Towards a common vision.” The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank and its affiliated organizations, or those of the Executive Directors of The World Bank or the governments they represent.
  2. Colombia was the first country that regulated the NAR with the Law 160 in 1994 (HOLLINGER, 1999)

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