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The Brazilian land administration system: main issues for its necessary reform

Grant number: 12/18275-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): January 27, 2012
Effective date (End): February 26, 2012
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Economics - Agrarian and Natural Resource Economics
Principal Investigator:Bastiaan Philip Reydon
Grantee:Bastiaan Philip Reydon
Host Investigator: Jaap Zevenbergen
Host Institution: Instituto de Economia (IE). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Twente (UT), Netherlands  


Brazil is a so called developing country that has achieved in the beginning of the XXI century economic growth, some strong institutions and improved social conditions. But its land governance framework is still very poor, not having solved basic questions that most countries did in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Brazilian agrarian question still needs to be addressed because uncertainty about land ownership persists and its symptoms are: high concentration of land ownership, numerous landless demanding land, many land conflicts (including deaths and injuries), large amount of land under possessions, possibilities of fraud in the process of land registration, absence of control over land purchases by foreigners, deforestation problems in the Amazon. The lack of institutional and political governance will perpetuate land issues that can be solved, especially regarding the reformulation of the current institutional framework of land governance. This critical agrarian problem in the twenty-first century has its origins in the country's pattern of settlement and development and the legal and institutional solutions that although they tried to tackle this problem, in most cases made them worse. Historically the Brazilian agrarian reality was marked by the existence of formal regulation, but not fully implemented, so that the rules of access to land are very fragile and incomplete. The Land Law of 1850 aimed the ruling of land ownership through the organization of public land appropriation, the ending of the possessions (posses), making a land ownership cadastre, in order to make land a reliable guarantee for loans. But that's not what happened: the control over land, to the present, mostly assures the property, depending on the region, but does not rule the ownership and even less the use of the land. As at present there is no cadastre of private or public land so even less any form of social regulation. In this scenario land use is a land owners decision, from speculative, through productive to predatory. The consequences of this process are quite broad, it sets the boundary between rich and poor, it determinates the technological development and the organization of the production of the main crops and, besides others, and it defines the values and levels of environment preservation of rural and urban areas. It is well known that rules aimed the regulation of these markets but legislation always ended up being circumvented or not enforced, creating conditions more conducive to speculation for some. Therefore, the ideal setting would be one in which society has governance over land defining it local proper use whether aiming production, housing or preserving the environment. But the first step to improve land governance in Brazil is by understanding the current structure of governance and the potential for its transformation to achieve the above goals. (AU)

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