At 4 am, Edir Catarino Silva, 46, is already on his way to the land where, on alternate days, he picks chayote and broccoli at Fazenda do Capo, in the municipality of Mrio Campos, Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte. With luck, the production yields R$ 2.14 per kilo in the wholesale market at the Ceasa Minas warehouse in Contagem, in Greater Belo Horizonte.
In some cases, the consumer can pay triple the price paid to farmers in the countryside, most of them workers relying only on their sweat in the daily care of the crops and the effort of their families. It is estimated that family farmers are responsible for placing 70% of the food served on the table in Brazil.
With food inflation soaring, the effects of the water crisis, more expensive inputs on crops and other factors influencing prices, such as the high dollar, forecasts for the coming months are that some products will increase 100% from September. A portion of the increases in various vegetables and fruits, which increased in prices in July at Ceasa’s warehouses across the country, will now reach the retail sector. There was a rise in prices for items such as papaya, bananas, one of the most consumed fruits in the country, and apples.
With variations in grocery bags and supermarkets of 35.98% and 13.32%, respectively, carrots and tomatoes were the items that most pressured, in Greater Belo Horizonte, the Broad National Consumer Price Index 15 (IPCA-15) this month, prior to the country’s official inflation, measured by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Expenditure on food and beverages rose, on average, from 0.14% in July to 0.62% in August in Belo Horizonte and its surroundings, according to the IBGE. The high was more than four times from one month to the next.
Producer Edir Catarino Silva, from Mrio Campos, produces under a sharecropper system, a partnership contract with the landowner to share production or profits with three other producers at Fazenda do Capo. The harvested fruits are packed in crates, taken to a shed, where they are subjected to cleaning, selection and again boxed to be sold at Ceasa Minas, in Contagem.
“Values vary from day to day and it is difficult to maintain price stability for the customer”
Eli Pinto Junior, restaurant owner
Catarino Silva complains about the price of inputs, such as fertilizers and fertilizers, which rose in the wake of the appreciation of the dollar against the real, as a large part of them depends on imports. The difficulty is combined with the low remuneration of chayote on the farm. On Tuesday, the fruit could be found at prices of up to R$ 2.99 in bags, reaching R$ 3.49 in a supermarket chain in Belo Horizonte.
The broccoli sold by the producer at R$ 2.08 at Ceasa Minas, in turn, was offered at R$ 3.99 in bags and R$ 6.59 in supermarket shelves. Highly sensitive to climate variations, the product takes around 45 days between planting and harvesting and, in general, it lasts around 18 hours after being harvested.
Fundamental gains and losses in food production, climate variations are not always favorable. They may also require more attention and care from those who treat the land, sow, cultivate and harvest vegetables, fruits and vegetables daily. In the dry landscape, characteristic of winter, the various shades of green, in well-aligned rectangles, call the attention of those traveling along rural roads and paths in the municipalities of Mrio Campos, Brumadinho, Sarzedo and Ibirit. These are cities that, among other municipalities, make up the green belt of the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte, responsible for the supply, mainly of vegetables, to the capital and its neighbors.
The producer says to follow each change in the climate, so that there are no significant losses. “In the case of broccoli, the best planting time is between the months of March and June, the end of the rainy season.” Among the hardwoods, what most worries the farmer is the cress. Vegetables need to be watered frequently. And it can’t stand a day without water. “Attention, I would say, she dies if she doesn’t keep the earth moist. There are no weekends or holidays.”
Andrade Faria sells, in bags in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte and in the capital, his production of two types of lettuce, flat and crisp, for R$ 15 a box with 36 ps, something around R$ 0.41 per p. The price charged to consumers in bags reaches R$ 1.99 per unit and in supermarkets it reaches R$ 2.69.
Complicated transfer in small commerce
A grower of green scent on leased land in the municipality of Ibirit, in the metropolitan region of the capital, Jos Carlos da Silva, 68, produces chives, parsley, mint, basil, rosemary and, sometimes, coriander.
The production, which extends throughout the year, is sold by the farmer himself in bags and supermarkets in the region of Belo Horizonte. It employs around 15 people, including maintenance of the garden, tying the bunches and packing.
Jos Carlos lists a series of difficulties in continuing to produce. “The price of the sauce for each of the spices is around R$ 0.40. With the inputs at the height, the price of the poison, the fertilizer and the labor added together, try to find the tip of the pen to stop working”, he complains. These products are found in bags for average values ranging from R$1.49 to R$1.69 in supermarkets.
Valdvia Alves da Silva, 49, produces Italian zucchini in Igarap. “Italian zucchini is at half the price, now maintaining 60% of the peak, which reached R$110 in a 20-kilogram box. Today (26/08) I’m selling for R$ 50 (the equivalent of R$ 2.50 per kilo).”
The product, according to a survey by Ceasa Minas, showed the largest price variation between the 1st and the 25th of this month in relation to the same period of 25 days in July (44.6%).
Also last Thursday, in bags, the price was around R$ 6.99 and surpassed the price in supermarkets, of R$ 4.99 per kilo. (EG)