Brazil: Food Systems



This case focuses on food systems planning in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. It highlights the Direct from the Countryside program, a decades long project that attempts to improve urban food access for vulnerable populations and small-farmer livelihoods in a rapidly urbanizing region. Placing themselves in the shoes of the city’s Municipal Food Security Secretariat, students explore the complicated nature of program planning when working across municipal jurisdictions and competing short- and long-term program goals.

Planning Topics

food systems planning, health planning, poverty reduction, regional planning, program planning, policy implementation, program evaluation

Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize the tradeoffs between upfront project investments versus long-term costs and the impacts this can have on program goals.
  2. Understand the potential social, technical and political implications of beginning with a smaller, pilot program verses launching a larger program all at once – i.e. pilots can lead to potential lock in to a preliminary version, with little ability to expand or make adjustments, but broader implementation can lead to multiple, untested issues.
  3. Consider how to align program goals in disparate areas (economic, social, health and safety, food access, environmental impact).
  4. Learn to expect unintended consequences of policies and programs.
  5. Appreciate the need for regional planning and inter-municipal cooperation for addressing planning problems that cross jurisdictional boundaries.
  6. Realize the threat that rapid urbanization – whether informally or formally supported by city officials – poses for some of the most productive farmland (and associated food production and farmer livelihoods) at the peri-urban edges of cities.

Download Case Study Files

Suggested Readings

  1. Satterthwaite, D, McGranahan, G and C Tacoli. (2010). Urbanization and its implications for food and farming. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 365: 2809-2820. Dowload full paper
  2. Clancy, K and K Ruhf. (2010). Is local enough? Some arguments for regional food systems. Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm and Resource Issues. Download full paper
  3. Popkin, B. (2014). Nutrition, agriculture and the global food system in low and middle income countries. Food Policy, 47: 91-96. Download full paper 
  4. Chappell, M and L LaValle. (2011). Food security and biodiversity: Can we have both? An agroecological analysis. Agriculture and Human Values, 28: 3-26. Read the abstract
  5. Zezza, A and L Tasciotti. (2010) Urban agriculture, poverty, and food security: Empirical evidence from a sample of developing countries. Food Policy, 35, 265-273, 2010. Download full paper



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