FILM: Soil, Struggle and Justice: Agroecology in the Brazilian Landless Movement

A film by Andreas Hernandez

Agroecology is the understanding of agriculture as ecosystem.  This view of the cultivation of the land is based in the sciences of biology and ecology, and many traditional farming practices.  Large-scale studies through UC Berkeley, University of Essex, Swissaid, the UK Government, and others, have demonstrated that agroecological farms can produce as much or more food than input-dependent industrial farms.  

This film examines a cooperative of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) in the South of Brazil, which struggled for access to land and then transitioned to agroecology. This MST cooperative is demonstrating the possibility of an alternative model of flourishing rural life, which provides thriving livelihoods for farmers, produces high quality and low cost food for the region, and rehabilitates the earth.

Soil, Struggle and Justice: Agroecology in the Brazilian Landless Movement

The Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) in Portuguese, is a mass social movement, formed by rural workers and by all those who want to fight for land reform and against injustice and social inequality in rural areas.The MST was born through a process of occupying latifundios (large landed estates) and become a national movement in 1984.  Over more than two decades , the movement has led more than 2,500 land occupations, with about 370,000 families – families that today settled on 7.5 million hectares of land that they won as a result of the occupations. Through their organizing, these families continue to push for schools, credit for agricultural production and cooperatives, and access to health care.

Currently, there are approximately 900 encampment holding 150,000 landless families in Brazil.  Those camped, as well as those already settled, remain mobilized, ready to exercise their full citizenship, by fighting for the realization of their political, social economic, environmental and cultural rights.

The MST is also a founding member of Via Campesina. Via Campesina is the international movement [bringing] together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.

La Via Campesina comprises about 164 local and national organizations in 73 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether, it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent from any political, economic or other type of affiliation.

Learn more about the MST and Via Campesina here

The Director, Andreas Hernandez, is chair of the Department of International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College.

The Film is available to share freely online (English, Portuguese and Spanish)

Please feel free to distribute to groups, institutions and individuals who may be interested in the issues of social movements, agriculture and ecology.