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Public Policies for Food Supplies in Belo Horizonte City

Keyword: Social Exclusion/Integration


For the time on the agenda of social politics, Belo Horizonte City Hall discussed about a basic right of a citizen: access to quality nutrition.

The Secretaria Municipal de Abastecimento (SMAB) expanded and structure the city's supply capability by establishing popular projects, many of them in partnership with the private sector, as a marketing regulator in food production and in actions to fight hunger and malnutrition. It developed programs to support direct production as well as incentives to the production geared to self consumption, through cooperatives therefore generating jobs and income.

This inversion in the priorities resulted in a greater participation of the population in the food market offering alternatives to quality products and reasonable prices. Information regarding prices, nutritional value and a better use of the food is given.

    "Food Basket"

This project commercializes 21 items of basic Food Basket with prices up to 40% less than the ones available on the market. They are intended for families with an income of up to minimum wages and who are previously enrolled by the SMAB. The products are commercialized by special buses and trucks who pay visits, every 15 days, to selected areas. It also has 3 permanent locations. The goal of the program is to take care of 56,000 needy families.

    "Model Vegetable Market"

This is a vegetable market where about 100 products are commercialized, encompassing food products such as: dairy products, fruits, vegetables, cereals, sweets and snacks and also beverages, typical foods and handicrafts.

The objective of this project is to recover the old spirit of Belo Horizonte Vegetable Market which, besides being a pleasant place to go shopping, offers an alternative to the consumers and a fun place to shop. This project takes place in good neighborhoods and meets the needs of the middle-class population.


    The City Department of Supplies Program

The Belo Horizonte City Government, through the City Department of Supplies - SMAB, has been carrying out an integrated supplies policy that aims at redoing the idea that supplies are not a subject of public concern, especially the City Government.

SMAB adopts political guidelines and action plans that aim at lessening the main problems pertaining to supplies that occur in the medium-size and large Brazilian cities, namely, the existence of a significant part of population that is stripped of their right to nourishment, the inadequate distribution of food products, the disregard of the internal market as a trading target and the distortion of price formation caused by an often oligopolized market, distant from the technical definition of perfect competition.

SMAB understands that the right to nourishment is inherent to a context os broadening citizenship, being the duty of the public sector to ensure nourishment security and to work so as the condition of citizenship with regard to in the area of nourishment to a greater part of the population.

This latter concept involves ampler and more structural issues pertaining the production and distribution of food products.

Our country, as well as our city, reflecting the national reality, present vicious patterns of income concentration and mechanism of growth that conjugates the development of modem sectors using state-of-the-art technology with the expansion of misery and beggary. Therefore, direct actions by the public sector are necessary to guarantee nourishment security to the low-income population.

Some of the actions consist of the distribution of basic monthly rations to the needy population; the distribution of enriched flour to nursing mothers, pregnant women, children and the elderly; the distribution of meals to city's public schools network; and the maintenance of a popular restaurant selling meals at prime cost.

Beyond the merely emergent plan, the inadequate distribution of food products demands also actions by the public sector.

Within the concept of inadequate distribution are the large number of intermediaries between the producer and the final consumer and the existence of oligopolized retail structures for some food items, which generates an excessively high profit margin from wholesale to retail. the conception of the Department of Supplies about the distribution does not pertain only to the trading and storing and facilities, but also to the agents, their role in the production of foods and in the formation and regulation of prices.

The municipal action has been guided by a direct role in the promotion of mechanisms through which the producer (mainly the small one) can sell his products directly to the final consumer and also by a regulation of the profit margin of the products commercialized in the facilities under its administration.

Another action mechanism is the creation of an institutional channel through which the public power can guarantee a commitment of the private sector to the policy of prices and to the quality of the products.

Such idea has been materialized in the creation of a City Council for Supplies, whose objective is to allow the city to go along with the private sector regarding the creation of mechanisms of price stabilization and normalization and regulation of supplies.

SMAB good quality horticultural commodities trading posts where the products which are sold at low prices through a standardized concession system. In order to meet, the three requirements above mentioned. Price stability is guaranteed, since all rises are negotiated with the grantees, being broadly founded on surveys in the segment at issue. The geographical distribution on the public facilities strives to meet the population's demands and to ensure an even accessibility to the benefit by all regions of the city. All of SMAB's actions are carried out jointly with other city agencies such as the Sanitary Watch, the Traffic Authority, the Urban Cleaning Superintendency and City Department for the Environment in order to guarantee safety, quality of the commodities, salubrity of the trading post and respect for the environment.

Educating and disciplining the demand is also a goal of SMAB's action, which is by an agile survey that produces permanently undated information on prices for a basic ration of 45 items defined by SMAB. Belo Horizonte is the second Brazilian city to establish a municipal basic ration. The starting point for this action is the diagnosis that the population is distressed by the absence of the information needed to exercice their right to inspect and to promote competition among the private suppliers of foodstuff.

Still on the educational aspect, SMAB stimulates the planting of vegetable gardens and orchards in residences and schools through the distribution of seedlings and the teaching of planting and maintenance techniques. It invests
as well in the education for consumption trough alternative nourishment and experimental cooking workshops besides publishing booklets with low-cost, highly- nutritional recipes, which are freely to the population.

Furthermore, SMAB tries to foment alternatives to centralized distribution and to the practice of monocultures. Belo Horizonte has already been fomenting the development of a green belt around the city and promoting negotiations with mayors of surrounding towns and neighboring regions so that they do the same. By fomenting the production of foods in other areas and by stimulating cooperative work, SMAB strives not only to increase the supply of foodstuff and reduction of their prices, but also to enhance its range of action and to promote the integration of the towns participating in the this consortium. The municipal supplies policy manages to be, after all, a broad urban policy since Belo Horizonte is a large city that envisions the Greater Belo Horizonte and the neighboring towns, trying to escape from a simple city policy, as a specific urban space, thus minimizing the duality city-country, which resulted from the rapid industrialization process occurred in Brazil.

Finally, still in the realm of production, the Belo Horizonte Government has coaxed the towns and microregions in its surroundings to promote rearches together eight public agencies in order to unveil their agricultural vocation, which will in the growing of assorted crops according the potential of each region. It is that a positive aspect for agriculture in region is the easily accessible market, especially for perishable goods.

Through integrated actions in the orbit of production, trade and nourishment security, the city is effectively contributing to the construction of full citizenship to its population regarding nourishment.

    The City Department of Supplies' Projects
    Supporting Food Production
    "The City Supplies Center"

The traditional Fixed Fair of the Sao Paulo Neighborhood in Belo Horizonte had its climax in the beginning, it was basically composed of producers who ended up adhering to model of the supplies center - CEASA, which appeared at that time.

Nonetheless, new retail facilities such as large greengrocers and supermarkets represented a strong competition, due to the price and standard quality these establishments offer.

This context generated the decline of the fair, which resisted notwithstanding, keeping a captive clientele, especially on weekends.

The fair now be replaced by the City Supplies Center (CAM), which will occupy an area of 10,000 m2 and will sell 40,000 tons per year, The CAM will be divided into two sectors: one, wholesale, consisting basically of the horticulturists themselves; the other, retail, including the merchants of the old fair. This way, the grantees will have better working conditions and the grocers will be in direct contact with the consumers who will be able to find quality products which prices monitored by the City Government.

The Center will also a complete service sector with bank agency, post office agency, telephone station and police station, but the great novelty will be the Green Market, a horticultural commodities public transaction system between the producers and the wholesale and retail markets.


In order to promote the planting of fruits tree in the city, SMAB created the Pro-Orchard Project. Small and large-sized seedlings as well as organic compound
furnished by Urban Cleaning Superintendency are distributed in order to foment self-supply, especially of the needy population, thus generating complementary nutritional alternatives. The donations are made during planned by the Department, at the CAC's (Community Support Centers), in nurseries, as well as in events held in the city in SMAB participates.

    "School and Community Vegetable Gardens"

This project aims at the implementation of vegetable gardens at the city's public school network and other spaces such as Health Centers, and Community Associations, guaranteeing the utilization of production for self supply.

Yet through diffusion of agroecological techniques (courses, lectures and technical monitoring) and through practical activities as well, intends also to call attention of the community o environmental issue.

    "The Harvest Campaign"

The Harvest Campaign is a project that supports the trade of products which are usually difficult to sell due to excess supply. The commodities are sold directly from the producer to the consumer, eliminating the middlemen. This project is carried out at strategic points of the city, optimizing the access of the population and reducing prices for the consumes, while boosting the producers earnings.

    "Straight from the Country"

This Project offers the population of Belo Horizonte horticultural products harvested year-round. The producer takes over a fixed point and sells directly to the consumer in order that both profit: the producer gets better prices for his products and the consumer buys healthy food for a price below market value.

    "Agroecological Experience Center"

The implementation of the Agroecological Experience Center will create communitary spaces for the production, reproduction and distribution of seedlings and seeds.

This project will provide support to the school and communitary vegetable gardens, besides it will be a place for learning and for the exchange of opinions and knowledge.

It is "agroecological" because it is going to disseminate agricultural techniques that preserve the environment and that use the available resources rationally.

This project is carried out jointly with the City Department for Environment.

    Regulating prices and controlling quality in the scope of food trade
    "The Workers' Convoy"

Aiming at optimizing the access of the needy population (monthly income between 1 and 3 minimum salaries) to healthy nourishment as well guaranteeing the supply of peripheral regions, the Belo Horizonte City Government has created "The Workers' Convoy. It has mobile sales points, which are duplicated on weekends to assist the suburban areas, and sells quality items of the basic monthly ration at low prices. It is supervised by SMAB and also has the function of regulating the food market.

    "ABasteCer ("To Supply")"

This project functions as a small market, with a greengrocer's, a butcher's and stalls selling cookies, coffee and leaf vegetables. Prices and quality are controlled by the City Government and the products are sold up to 50% cheaper than at the groceries.

Together with the Workers' Convoy, ABasteCer benefits about 13% of population of the city.

    "The Padre Eustaquio Covered Fair"

Administrating public supplies facilities is one of SMAB's concerns. In June 1994, the management of the Padre Eustaquio Covered Fair was transferred from the state's supplies - CEASA - to this Department. Besides refurbishing the internal area with the replacement of stalls by standardized booths and the introduction of service stations (bank, post office), SMAB will also create cultural spaces at currently idle places. The management will be carried out jointly with the Marketers Association, which will create conditions for an open dialogue.

    "The District Markets"

Belo Horizonte City Government is revitalizing the District Markets through their transformation into multiple spaces, uniting supplies and culture. Nowadays, the Cruzeiro Barroca and Santa Tereza District Markets are frequented habitually by the people of Belo Horizonte in search good prices and high quality.

The "Offers of the Day" project has made a mix of products available to the consumers at reasonable prices, which are negotiated between the City Government and the tradesmen.

    "The Lagoinha Popular Market"

The Lagoinha neighborhood is one of most traditional in Belo Horizonte.

The retrieval of the historical and cultural assets of Belo Horizonte, of which Lagoinha is a fundamental part, implies the revitalization of the "Little Market". 40's, SMABS will use its space to conduct new experiments for the promotion of citizenship.

The interior will be refurbished to shelter a cinema with 115 seats, a restaurant and bar, resuming the festive traditional of Lagoinha. On the other hand. the Implementation of an "incubator" of microenterprises in the space of the market, whereby family businesses will be supported and strengthened so as to evolve into small firms, will contribute to the modernization of the neighborhood.

    "SMAB's basic monthly ration"

SMAB's basic monthly ration defines 45 products (foodstuff, cleaning and hygienic) that represent the minimum basic consumption needs of a family of 4 people.

"SMAB's Basic Monthly Ration is the official monthly ration of the country, which is a reference tool in attributing priority to public actions in the urban supplies area. Its publication twice a week allows the population not only to learn what the undeniable items are minimal consumption of family (which should be covered by the minimum salary) but also to learn in which." establishment the basic monthly ration can be currently bought for the lowest price.

Besides being published in the newsmedia and in bus posters, this service can be accessed by the population via telephone: "Dial Economy - 156"

    Upholding food consumption
    "The Popular Restaurant"

In view of the impossibility of the private enterprise to offer the low-income workers healthy meals at an accessible cost, in July 1994 the City Government reopened the Popular Restaurant, which had been closed since August 1992.
The Popular Restaurant is a quite modern public facility full able to comply with the supplies policy proposed by Belo Horizonte City Government. Now totally managed by the City Government, it assists a public with an average instruction equivalent to grammar school and a monthly income ranging from 01 to 03 minimum salaries.

this measure aims at ensuring social well being to those the Popular Restaurant serves around 3.000 daily meals and the varied menus are controlled both nutritionally and quality wise by SMAB. It has become a new reference in the city, linking a conventional location with a highly attractive menu at a fair price.

    "The Pe-de-Moleque Program -Nourishing Children and Teenagers"

In order to fight malnutrition, which affects millions of people and is specially grave for children, the Belo Horizonte City Government has implemented the Pe-de-Moleque Program -Nourishing Children and Teenagers.

This Program consists of three projects: Preventing and Fighting Malnutrition, School Meals, and Nourishment Support to Nurseries.


The Project provides 340.000 people (17% of Belo Horizonte's population)


The program tries to reach families with an income of a maximum of 2 minimum wages. It also prioritizes the social groups who are biologically more vulnerable to hanger, such as children, adolescents, pregnant women, nursing mothers and seniors citizens. For them, it has developed programs to distribute enriched flour in the Health Care Centers (110), Day Care Centers (147), Hospitals (02) and Nursing Homes (3.200 seniors citizens) The School Food Program expanded the menu by increasing the protein and caloric values of the meals. The Food Basket Program, which is directly administrated by Belo Horizonte City Hall sells 21 products of the Basic Basket (food, cleaning and personal hygiene products) to about 10.000 families enrolled in the village and slums of outskirts of the city, for half the price of the existing retail. There are today 30 novable spots (there are 3 converted buses) and 3 permanent spots.
The Straight from Country Project and Harvest Campaign Project benefit 38 families of small producers today who organized in associations or cooperatives. With the support of the Belo Horizonte City Hall in agreement with the Empresa de Extensao Rual do Estado de Minas Gerais, many products such as leafy vegetables, honey, molasses, violets, sweets, etc. are brought and sold directly to consumers.
The families of small producers receive today, an average of 5 minimum wages monthly which is a contrast with happens today (in average) in the State of Minas Gerais (less than 2 minimum wages). Producers and consumers are thus benefited.
This integration with the rural productive sector from the interior of the state, besides offering a better remuneration to the rural producers, makes feasible to re-invest in the production system, under the orientation of technicians from the SMAB, to implement practices which are economically feasible and ecologically sustainable.

Regarding the development of the urban agriculture and putting into practice ecologically sustained techniques, the Centro de Vivencia Agroecologica proposes to mobilize the community so that they make use of small urban areas (back yards or community areas) to produce vegetables, fruit and medicinal herbs. Courses are offered for adolescents in the areas of gardening and plant nursery, which will also help to place them in market.

The Popular Restaurant of Belo Horizonte City Hall feeds today about 3.000 people for lunch. Since its inauguration, in July of 1994, it charges R$ 1,00 per meal, which is considerably less than the market price (about R$ 2,50). It's balanced meal which also includes fruit juice or milk, besides a desert (a sweet desert or a fruit). The social subsidy has been dropping throughout the period and today it is around R$ 6.500,00 per month.

The programs are efficient because the expenditure on the part of the Public Administration is very low. The partnership programs have zero cost and the subsidy to the others is very small. The program serves 17% of the population of Belo Horizonte.
15% of all the fruits, vegetables and poultry consumed in city are commercialized in the "spots" of the SMAB.


    Belo Horizonte City Government
    1212 Afonso Pena Ave.
    Belo Horizonte
    Minas Gerais
    (031) 277-4876


    City Office of Supplies
    Belo Horizonte City Government
    1212 Afonso Pena Ave.
    Belo Horizonte
    Minas Gerais
    (031) 277-4876


    City Health Office
    Patrus Ananias de Souza
    1212 Afonso Pena Ave., 2TH FLOOR
    Belo Horizonte
    Minas Gerais
    (031) 277-4876

    1212 Afonson Pena Ave.
    Belo Horizonte
    Minas Gerais
    (031) 277-4876

    City Social Development Office

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