Agro-forestry and Environment: sustainability sectors in liberal drift

When the soil is exhausted (the water is already running out…), investors abandon the activity and go to invest in another location

Sustainability means the longevity of natural resources and ecosystems that support life.

The primary production of the terrestrial system comes from the agro-forestry sector, on which the basis of the economy is based – therefore, the protection of soil and water is fundamental and is taught to little children right from school… or should be.

Agro-forestry production provides us with basic materials for food and primary commerce, first and foremost the foundations of a social market economy; but what has prevailed with the greatest impact in recent decades is the free market economy and the shocks of the liberal drift of the global economy.

The Prof. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner for Economics in 2001, wrote, in 2019, that liberalism had been harming democracy for some 40 years, replacing citizens' rights to a free choice with the choice imposed by unregulated markets. No matter how much Fukuyama finds subterfuge…

In Portugal, the neoliberal drift in agro-forestry was accentuated under Prime Minister Cavaco Silva, although he claims to be the champion of social democracy (Sá Carneiro would foam, if he were alive).

In fact, he paid subsidies to small and medium-sized farmers to stop producing and thousands of hectares of land were left abandoned or ended up in eucalyptus trees; and he also abolished the Rural Extension Services, which were essential for teaching new cultures and new techniques to those who came to agriculture. But large agrarians and agro-industry have the money to pay their own technicians. Social democracy, huh?…

Still with the PSD, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was entirely in the hands of people from cellulose companies, who tried to put an end to the Forestry Services and Protected Areas, in the Environment, a plot denounced by the minister himself Amílcar Teias (he only lasted a short time in office …).

With the arrival of the PS, things didn't change direction, they got worse! António Costa, when he was Minister of Internal Administration, does not appear to have understood anything about the matter, but, supported by his colleague in Agriculture – the worst leader in the sector until the current one arrived… – he completed the task started by the PSD: he ended the forest guards, sending them to the GNR.

Which country in the world was inspired to do away with the Forestry Service and its own body of guards?

There is always a reason, it could be this: the professional ethics of forestry engineers, even controlled by cellulose companies, and the planning plans for large Natural Parks, were obstacles to the free expansion of eucalyptus plantations, which is why they were targets to be destroyed. And they were.

In a social market economy, agriculture should give priority to the food and forage crops that we so desperately need – but no, agriculture, particularly south of the Tagus, was oriented towards large industrial irrigation.

In the Algarve, where there was already a traditional culture demanding irrigation, citrus fruits, which made the region famous, instead of increasing food agriculture and small owners of vegetable gardens and orchards, regional policy was oriented towards large citrus orchards. irrigation, namely avocados for export.

When the soil is exhausted (the water is already running out…), investors, like a casino game tactic, abandon the activity and go to invest in another location.

Those who stay here are left with exhausted soils and no water – a liberal drift in the economy that severely harms the social market economy that should prevail in a social democracy.

And they don't even have the courage to reorganize a true Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, they prefer to dismantle the regional directorates, in the name of an unfortunate conception of regionalization.

And it's better not to talk about the Environment, the positions taken at national and regional level are visible to all. Everyone must make their own judgment in the face of the nonsense that is presented to us almost every week.


Author Fernando Santos Pessoa is a landscape architect and forestry engineer…and he writes with the spelling he learned at school

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