Country situation and role of agriculture
The Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in the Latin American region and the fifth largest country in the world in terms of both geographical area and population. In 2012, Brazil was the world’s seventh largest economy, having a GDP per capita of US$ 11 340, thus being classified as an upper-middle income country.1 Brazil is a major player in global agricultural trade, accounting for 7.3 percent of global agricultural exports. It is the world’s third-largest exporter of agricultural products, behind only the EU and the United States. Soybean products remain the largest export, followed by sugarcane products (sugar and ethanol), meat (especially poultry and beef), coffee and cereals.
The agricultural sector, being vital to Brazil’s economic and social development, is supported by two separate ministries: the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA), focused primarily on agribusiness development and market integration; and the Ministry of Agrarian Development (MDA), created in 1999 to establish land reform, promote sustainable development and support family farming. According to the 2006 Agricultural Census, family farm establishments represent 84 percent of the country’s farms and contribute 38 percent to the gross value of agricultural production.
The government has been pursuing an integrated strategy of growth with social inclusion, involving Ministries of Social Development, Education and Health among others. Significant improvements in the reduction of poverty and inequality have been achieved; inequality has fallen to 0.52 as measured by the Gini index, the lowest level in 50 years.2 Furthermore, as of 2012, Brazil’s Human Development Index (HDI) was 0.730, having increased by 40 percent from 1980.3