Agrarian Reform Movement

By: EconomyWatch   Date: 21 April 2010

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Since time immemorial, Agrarian Reform Movement has been acting as an effective tool for the worldwide peasant classes to revolt against the uneven distribution of agricultural land and the oppression of the landlords. The effects of the Agrarian Reform Movement was wide and far-reaching, forcing the imperialistic or autocratic rulers or the government to introduce changes in the agricultural sector of a country, for the overall betterment of the rural, agrarian population. In fact, Agrarian Reform Movement became essential, whenever the ruling power of a nation became indifferent to the requirements of the farmers classes, who were one of the most deprived ones in the social strata.

Agrarian Reform Movement: The Global Scenario

Almost all countries across the world experienced agricultural reform movement at some point of time or the other. One such country was Brazil. This Latin American nation witnessed the the largest peasant's revolt, called the Landless Workers Movement or “Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra” (MST). The extent of the movement was immense, covering 23 out of 27 Brazilian states and involving some 1.5 million landless farmers. The primary motto of the Landless Workers Movement was to fight against the unequal and unfair ways of allocating the land areas. The condition of the land ownership in Brazil prior to the Movement was in a sorry state, with 1.6% of the landlords possessing about half (46.8%) of the total arable lands in Brazil. Only 3% of the rural peasant population in the country had control over two-thirds of the total Brazilian cultivable lands.

Aim of the Landless Workers Movement:

The Landless Workers Movement was considered to be a social ideology, guiding hundreds and thousands of the rural masses to a systematic and aligned form of popular revolt, to protest against the unfair distribution of the cultivable lands and break away from the shackles of the oppressive treatments of landlords. It also sought to implement reform programs for the overall improvement of the land conditions, their productivity as well as the position of the farmers.

Landless Workers Movement: Some Initiatives

The Landless Workers Movement believed that the poor peasant classes could never fight for their rights unless they were educated enough to be acquainted with their actual requirements. To that effect, the Movement took initiatives for opening schools for more than 50,000 agrarian workers between 2002 and 2005, where they were taught to read and write from the elementary levels till graduation, and become well-aware of their social positions and rights.

Impact of the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil:

In the Brazilian agricultural sector, the Movement facilitated the development of a sustained form of cultivation, concentrating more on transforming the waste lands into cultivable ones. This was done mainly through providing organic manures to the land, distribution and plantation of local seeds and modifying the modes of farming, for increased and better outputs. Further, the Movement also forced the Brazilian government to found the Latin American School of Agroecology, with initiatives of taking up reform program known as the Contestado Settlement. All these methods marked the beginning of the overall growth and development of the Brazilian agricultural sector and the conditions of the agrarian workers.

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