The Land Resource Information and Suitability System for Family Agriculture (LARISSA), developed for the Brazilian agrarian reform

G. Sparovek, M. Cooper, D. Dourado-Neto, R.F. Maule, P. Vidal-Torrado, L.F. de M. Pimenta, S.P. Martins, E.R. Teramoto, A.C. Silva, J. Van de Steeg, E. Schnug


Family Agriculture (FA), supported by the Brazilian govemment and society, is recognized as essential for rural life-quality improvement and for the maintenance of natural resources. FA competes for the same natural and regional resources as
commercial agricultural production. Without support the commercial production would tend to withdraw FA from the most suited regions. FA has important differences when compared to commercial agriculture. The consumption-driven propose of FA rather than the market-orientation of commercial agriculture influences the factors that may improve or constrain production. In FA high yields are usually substituted by crop quality standards and monocultural systems by diversified production. The macroeconomic scenario that drives the markets for most commercial crops plays a minor role in FA. The maintenance of natural resources, integrating the forest with the agricultural ecosystems, and the reduction in the use of pesticides and fertilizers are other features that usually distinguish FA. Land evaluation procedures targeting the promotion of FA should consider its specificity. The currently adopted methods used to support Brazilian governmental programs are based on tools developed for commercial agriculture. These methods are not sufficiently sensitive to farmers' traditional knowledge, crop quality and diversity importance, consumption driven character and local markets, which are important factors in FA production. The non-consideration of these issues during the planning stage is frequently impairing FA's development. LARISSA is an expert system composed of a computer program, field procedure guidelines and training course designed for land evaluation for the Brazilian FA production. LARISSA may improve the efficiency of the govemmental programs, help driving decisions and guide research for FA development. By developing FA, rural poverty is decreased and life-quality improved by a production system that is more labor intensive and environmentallY friendly.


Land evaluation, agrarian reform, family agriculture, Brazil

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