The 5th ordinary plenary meeting of 2023 of the National Council for Food and Nutritional Security (CONSEA, in Portuguese) took place on 26 and 27 September with an agenda that focused on structural racism and the guarantee of food and nutritional sovereignty and security in Brazil. The World Food Programme (WFP) Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil, as an observer of CONSEA, was represented by Osiyallê Rodrigues, a nutritionist from the Centre’s Project team.
During the plenary session, Osiyallê Rodrigues detailed some key points for promoting food and nutrition security for black people in Africa and diasporas and highlighted the role of the COVID-19 pandemic as an enabler of social inequalities within the black population. “As a result of the health problems that have affected the privileges of part of the population, various social issues have become the subject of political action and have included more visibility for vulnerable groups in the country, although this segment has been affected socially for a long time, even before the pandemic,” he said.
The panel was also composed by CONSEA president Elisabetta Recine, councillor Edgar Moura, PenSSAN Network executive coordinator Sandra Chaves, UFRJ adjunct professor Rute Costa, agronomist Fran Paula and CONSEA representative Anna Lúcia.
In his speech, Osiyallê Rodrigues also emphasised that climate change will affect the means of food production and consumption, especially for the most vulnerable groups, highlighting the possible impacts on the African continent and on traditional groups in Brazil. In addition, with regard to access to healthy food, the nutritionist emphasised the importance of agroecological urban markets in places of great vulnerability, since they strengthen the economy of smallholder farmers and offer good quality food to black people in favelas.
“Encouraging agroecological fairs contributes to a sustainable food system and quality food in the territories, an alternative to the growth of the food industry, which promotes food deserts and swamps, especially where there is a concentration of black people,” said Osiyalê Rodrigues. Finally, the nutritionist mentioned the geographer Milton Santos, who argued that academia must become sensitive to the contributions of social movements. “In this sense, for universities of nutrition to be able to collaborate in the anti-racist struggle for food and nutrition security, the academic community needs to listen to and understand the traditional knowledge of the various social groups in Brazil in order to maintain cultures and food and nutrition sovereignty,” he added.
Encouraging the consumption of fresh foods, rich in fibre and micronutrients, such as fruit and vegetables found at agroecological fairs, is part of the activities to tackle the multiple burden of malnutrition, the central theme of the Nurture the Future Project. The project, which is a partnership between the WFP Centre of Excellence, the Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, aims to propose actions to help public managers reduce obesity and malnutrition among school-aged children. Find out more here.