The Metropolitan Articulation of Urban Agriculture - AMAU is composed by small farmers, representatives of community groups and associations, civil society organizations, social movements and networks involved in urban agriculture practices in Belo Horizonte (RMBH).
Mission and Purpose
The Metropolitan Articulation of Urban Agriculture - AMAU is composed by small farmers, representatives of community groups and associations, civil society organizations, social movements and networks involved in urban agriculture practices in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte (RMBH). AMAU actions include: organization of meetings; support to popular initiatives that mobilize small farmers from RMBH; diffusion of agricultural experiences. In addition, the articulation seeks to deepen the political debate on the countryside-city relationship and on the role of agroecology in the construction of a popular project mediated by discussion and participation in the elaboration of public policies and urban planning.
Origins and Development
The AMAU was created in 2004 after the "Dignity and Life Caravan - Food Security and Urban Agriculture - Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte". The objective of the caravan was to identify and discuss experiences of urban agriculture and food security carried out by civil society in the state of Minas Gerais. This event arose from the creation of the Minas Gerais Forum on Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security (FMSANS) and the Minas Gerais State Council for Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security (CONSEA-MG) in 1999, which included the participation of the Interchange Network of Alternative Technologies - REDE (ORNELAS, 2017)
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
The AMAU is structured through the following working commissions: agrobiodiversity; production, marketing and consumption; self-organization of women; and medicinal plants. Its meetings gathered several groups, networks, enterprises, research initiatives and university extension projects, community associations and social movements that presented demands such as: urban and agrarian reform, feminism, healthy food, solidarity based economy, among others. In addition, advisory organizations, researchers and students from different areas also participated (ALMEIDA, 2016).
Specializations, Methods and Tools
The focus of this collective is to deepen the political debate on the countryside-city relationship and on the role of agroecology. It focuses on the construction of a popular project mediated by discussion and participation in the elaboration of public policies and urban planning. The main claims and demands are: access to land; access to natural resources; promotion of agroecological production; technical advice with agroecological, popular and gender focus; political training and technical training; outflow and commercialization of production; popular communication; studies and research on agroecology in RMBH; battle against mining; combating pesticides; support to the territorialization of experiences, considering the multiple functions of agriculture (AMAU, 2015).
Major Projects and Events
Among the organized meetings, it is important to emphasize the celebration of the 10 years of AMAU, held between November 29 and 30, 2014, in the municipality of Mário Campos. From this meeting and the systematization carried out in partnership with AUÊ! - Group of Studies in Urban Agriculture (Institute of Geosciences of the Federal University of Minas Gerais) was collectively prepared a Political Charter that presents "claims and proposals of actions defined by the AMAU that, besides contributing to the debates, can subsidize the formulation and implementation of programs and public policies aimed at the promotion of agroecology and the strengthening of family agriculture in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte." (AMAU, 2015) The meetings and activities carried out by the AMAU allow the creation of dynamics for the exchange of knowledge and practices, and collective training among the people involved, especially for urban small farmers. In addition, in its political letter, drawn up after the 10-year meeting, the debate on the multiple functionalities of agroecology for public policies stands out:
The various activities of agroecology permeate other sectors of society performing diverse functions. Among many other activities that generate food, labor and income, agriculture involves the reuse of waste in the production of natural fertilizers, gardening, pruning and urban cleaning, preservation of springs and PPAs, recovery of degraded areas and of areas at risk, the afforestation and permeability of the soil, living pharmacies (medicinal plants) and seedling nurseries, school and pedagogic gardens, raising animals such as chickens, quail, pigs, cattle and rabbits. In view of the importance of the social and environmental function of agricultural practices in the city and in the countryside, it is essential that public authorities support the advance and consolidation of agroecology experiences in the RMBH. Government, private sector and civil society must organize themselves to build public policies to support and promote the production and commercialization of agroecological foods (AMAU, 2015, p.20)
The AMAU has a fundamental role in the process of characterization and mapping of the agriculture in the RMBH. In the year 2013, the articulation built a "Declaration of Participation of the AMAU" and a collaborative virtual platform to systematize and give visibility to the plural profile of its members and other agriculture-related initiatives. The characterization and mapping of agriculture inspired and guided the performance of AUÊ! - Studies in Urban Agriculture (IGC / UFMG) that continues with the collection of data so that one can understand who are the farmers in the RMBH, how they are organized, who represents them, where and how they produce. Thus, it is believed that it is possible to construct ways of guaranteeing the maintenance of the farmers in the region, either through public policies and urban planning (ORNELAS et al, 2017).
Nowadays, AMAU has carried out agroecological workshops and meetings to strengthen its self-organization, such as the conversation circles, the construction of community agroforestry garden and an agroforestry task-force. Of particular note is the Agroecology in the Periphery project, of which AMAU is a partner, whose objective is to promote agroecology in communities located in the outskirts of the city, mainly in urban land occupations of RMBH. This project works through training workshops, joint efforts and exchanges focused on guaranteeing the right to sustainable cities.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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ALMEIDA, Daniela Adil Oliveira de. Isto e Aquilo - agriculturas e produção do espaço na Região Metropolitana de Belo Horizonte. Tese. Belo Horizonte; Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 2016.
AMAU. Articulação Metropolitana de Agricultura Urbana. Carta Política – 10 anos. 2015. Disponível em: <https://aueufmg.wordpress.com/carta-politica-articulacao-metropolitana-de-agricultura-urbana-amau/> Acesso em: 1013 de junhonovembro 20197.
ORNELAS, Gabriel Mattos et al. Caracterização e mapeamento das agriculturas na Região Metropolitana de Belo Horizonte. VI Congresso Latino-americano de Agroecologia, X Congresso Brasileiro de Agroecologia, V Seminário de Agroecologia do Distrito Federal e Entorno. 2017.
ORNELAS, Gabriel Mattos. Agroecologia e Regiões Metropolitanas: desafios e possibilidades para a gestão local e regional na RMBH. Monografia. Belo Horizonte; Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 2017.
[[ Text by: Gabriel Mattos Ornelas]]