In Brazil, a country known as the “granary” of the world for producing food for export to several countries, 33 million people face severe food insecurity, meaning they are hungry. The data was revealed by a wide research released on Wednesday (8).
Performed by the Vox Populi institute, the data are from the 2nd National Survey on Food Security in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic, released by the Penssan Network (Brazilian Research Network on Food Sovereignty and Security and Nutrition).
This is a representative survey of the Brazilian population, in rural and urban regions, from 26 states plus the Capital District. The sample included 12,745 households, with face-to-face interviews with an adult. Data collection occurred between November 2021 and April 2022.
It is the worst scenario in the country in the last 30 years. There are 14 million more people going hungry than in 2020.
If we include people who suffer some degree of food insecurity, that is, who do not have the minimum daily access to food, this number increases to 125 million Brazilians (58.7% of the population).
This means that more than half the population does not know if they will have enough to eat and, even when they do, they need to reduce the quantity or quality of food.
Map of Hunger has gender, race and region
The unequal access to food is most evident in rural households, 18.6% of which face hunger in their daily lives. In geographical terms, 25.7% of families with serious food insecurity live in the North; 21% in the Northeast.
But another face related to hunger is marked by other chronic situations of inequality in Brazil: gender and race. According to the study, hunger penalizes 43.0% of the families with per capita income of up to 1/4 of the minimum wage. One in every five households with women as head of household is in a state of food insecurity. 65% of the families whose head is black or mixed race presented some degree of food insecurity, while in homes headed by white people the rate was 53.2%.
Pandemic and government inaction
More than the effects of the health crisis of Covid-19, the restrictions in access to food expose, according to the study, a picture of socioeconomic deterioration and deep inequalities in Brazilian society prior to the pandemic and worsened by it.
Renato Maluf, one of the researchers responsible, points to the lack of public policies to fight hunger as one of the reasons for the vertiginous increase in food insecurity indices observed in recent years. “The measures taken by the government to contain hunger today are isolated and insufficient,” he told the press.
According to the survey, even the Auxílio Brasil (in an amount below the population’s needs), in effect during the survey period, did not mitigate the serious social situation. According to the survey, hunger was present in 21.5% of the households of the families that requested and managed to receive the benefit of this social program.
The extinction of public policies to fight hunger and social, labor and environmental attacks made by Bolsonaro and Mourão’s government since the beginning of their administration are pointed as causes for the advance of the hunger map in the country.
The report highlights that, in 2021, the Food Purchase Program (PAA) and the Bolsa Família Program (PBF) will be abolished and replaced by the Alimenta Brasil and Auxílio Brasil programs, evaluated by experts as fragile in their conceptions and goals, besides being limited in their population coverage. It is estimated that only half of the 100 million people previously served by the BFP and the Auxílio Emergencial remained with access to Auxílio Brasil. Furthermore, the poor management of the National School Feeding Program (PNAE) stands out in this pandemic period.
According to the website UOL, the government practically zeroed out the budget for the Alimenta Brasil program, which donates food to people living in food insecurity. In 2012, the program had a budget of R$586 million. In 2022, until May, the action had a budget of only R$ 89 thousand.
This barbaric scenario is registered at a time of skyrocketing inflation and high food prices. At the moment it has also just been disclosed that Bolsonaro spent in just one year and three months R$ 21 million in the corporate card in secret expenses on food and travel.