creates unique local and environmental identities.
It ties territory, social practices, environment and
culture. It cements cultural identities that transform into trenches
of resistance. It
breeds shared political will to fight for rights, for
traditions, for survival and for perspectives of a future
without the destruction of its own history and ways of life.
It raises the desire for dialogue, for respect and for
the construction of political unity between various cultures
and peasant identities for the popular struggle around the
right to an existence and to the right to build a future.
Sérgio Antônio Görgen*
agriculture is not just a way to produce food.
It is a way of living.
It is a specific culture and relationship with nature.
It is a differentiated form of community living. This
form of agriculture cannot be defined only as a system of
families live and survive with little land.
Farming of this sort is done on small plots of land.
In this, it distinguishes itself from big
agribusinesses done on large plots and with contracted labor.
agriculture thrives on the diversification of production.
It is not based on monoculture.
It combines animal husbandry with production of crops,
and performs each of these activities year round.
production for self-consumption, for the subsistence of the
community, has an important role in peasant agriculture. Their
land is one of the fundamental elements constituting a space
of autonomy and nourishment.
and family relations are strong components of this mode of
writers, such as Alexander Chaianov - one of the principal
scholars of peasant agriculture throughout history – say
that the reproduction of peasant agriculture is based on
family and community relations.
example, if a peasant family values – consciously or
unconsciously – objectives of a modest life, it will
organize its economic life in this way. But if another family
thinks that the completion of a college degree is an important
objective, its decisions about how to organize the production
and its relationship with the market will be based on that
community is a central element in the peasant way of life.
To destroy their communities is to destroy them
the community, they organize spaces for parties, religious
events, sports, conflict resolution, cultural expressions,
holidays, shared learning, exchange of experiences, expression
of diversity, political activities and economic
is no anonymity in the peasant community.
Everyone is known. The relationships of kinship and neighborhood acquire a
determining influence over social relations in the peasant
profoundly distinguishes itself from urban cultures, in their
varied forms of expression.
A prominent mark of country-based agriculture is diversity.
Diversity ranges from different cultures to ways to
interacting with the land in the context of different natural
worlds. Brazil is large and diverse: the many Brazilian
farmers possess the benefits of this diversity. As
Brazilian peasants forged their footsteps they also learned to
adapt to the world in which they lived. In this way the
Brazilian farmer produces a variety of things in different
ways, whether it be through diverse biomass, countless
agro-ecosystems, hundreds of microclimates, through adapting
with the specifications of every location, living with
nature's responses without aggravating and destroying every
niche, mountain slope, river bank, pasture bottom, dense
forest. Under intermittent rain and caustic sun and
winter frost, the best rural map of Brazil is the diverse
reality created by the presence of small farmers.
Diversity creates local environmental identities. It
binds territories, social practices, environment and culture.
It cements cultural identities that transform themselves
into trenches of resistance. It produces political and
collective organizations that fight for basic rights and
survival. It raises the challenge of dialogue, respect,
and the construction of an alliance to fight for the common
struggle for the right to exist and preserve this culture in
Peasant agriculture doesn't exist in pure form. It is
always marked by contradictions and challenges to meet its own
affirmation. Its own existence is based on resistance and a
permanent fight to survive.
Today, traditional peasant agriculture is under pressure from
an agricultural policy that gives priority to large
corporations and monoculture production for exporting, as well
as a technology based on chemical products.
Country agriculture and the peasant way of life is, at the
same time, a historic patrimony of human society and a
contradictory process of collective construction—an utopian
life for a large part of our society.
Frei Sérgio Antônio Görgen is a member of the Movement of
Small Farmers (MPA).