Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Alessandro Bonanno and Lawrence Busch
Chapter 6: Brazilian farmers, quality and markets
Studies of the development of agriculture in Brazil stress the nation’s colonial past based on the role that geographical discoveries and the rule of Portugal played in the establishment of a system of production of goods for European markets. In the first few centuries of Brazil’s economic and agricultural expansion, two key production systems were employed. The first consisted of sugar plantations on the fertile coastal wetlands, and the second was the extensive livestock operations on large tracts of land in the interior of the country (Andrade 1973; Garcia 1975). In the Sertão of the Northeast, ownership was defined through land grants called capitanias hereditárias, or hereditary captaincies, and their partitions “sesmarias.” These were lands granted to representative segments of the power structure of the colony, called “sesmeiros” or grantees, who became the actors of a hierarchical structure characterized by a powerful landowning class that prevails to this day (Faoro 1958; Bruno 2009).
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