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Fact Finding Mission on The impact of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in the Matopiba Region, Brazil

Representing Aidenvironment, our staff member Hilde van Dijkhorst recently participated in a fact- finding mission in the Matopiba region of Brazil. Matopiba is an abbreviation for the Brazilian states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia and is known as the last agricultural frontier.

The fact-finding mission took place between 6 and 11 September 2017 and involved 30 international representatives from human rights and rural development organizations. Its objective was to document and analyze the social, economic, environmental and human rights impacts of large-scale land acquisition for agri-business expansion in the Matopiba region, which is part of the Brazilian Cerrado. The Cerrado is the second largest biome in Brazil and has seen accelerated deforestation rates in recent years to make space for large-scale production of soy, corn and cotton. This is leading to the destruction of biodiversity in the region and is accompanied by land grabbing through violence, intimidation, and the intensification of struggles with traditional communities over access to natural resources. The expansion by agribusiness companies operating in the Matopiba area are frequently funded by (pension) funds based in the US, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany.

During the fact-finding mission, testimonies were recorded by the delegation in the communities of Melancias, Baixão Fechado, Sete Lagoas, Brejo das Meninas, Santa Fé in the South of Piauí state. The delegation noted agrochemical pollution and health impacts, diminishing biodiversity and natural resources such as water as well as land grabbing and the intimidation of the traditional communities living in these areas, resulting from agricultural expansion. Public hearings and meetings were held with prosecutors, the Piauí Governor’s office, Ministry of Human Rights and the Vara Agrária (Court for agricultural dispute settlement).

The fact-finding mission was organized by FIAN International and Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos, FIAN Brazil and Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) Piauí.

For more information, please contact Hilde van Dijkhorst