There are extreme social and economic disparities in Brazil. About 60 per cent of rural dwellers live below the poverty line. Unfair land distribution is one of the reasons for this. Roughly 4.8 million Brazilian peasant families are landless, while some 4 000 large landowners possess over 85 million hectares of land. Families who have lived for generations on their land, though most of them without official land rights, are being systematically expelled to make way for large soya, sugar cane and eucalyptus plantations, and for extensive cattle farming. Brazil's biodiversity of is under severe threat and social problems have become more accentuated. HEKS/EPER helps improve the food security and incomes of the rural population. HEKS/EPER supports the building of a strong civil society capable of standing up for its rights through dialogue with authorities and companies, and also before the courts.
Brazil was hit hard by Covid-19 in 2020. HEKS/EPER assisted 16 000 people with supplies of food, toiletries and through access to clean water.
In the Cerrado, the roughly 10 000-strong community of flower gatherers was designated a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) in connection with the sustainable management of its approximately 100 000 hectares of land. This designation paves the way for the land to be better protected from land grabbing and overexploitation in the future.