THE POSSIBILITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE IN THE SOUTH OF BRAZIL AND THE ROLE OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
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One of the growing problems in this world is food security due to a growing population, land scarcity en environmental challenges. This increases the dependency on agriculture, and therefore sustainable agriculture becomes more important. Education is an useful tool to work towards sustainable agriculture. In Brazil monocultures provide for export products, however these monocultures do not contribute to the food security of the peasants who live in the rural areas in Brazil. These people depend on their small pieces of land who decrease in fertility due to the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. This research sees environmental education (EE) as tool to help the people in the rural areas. So far the possibilities of EE are investigated in developed countries and in big scaled agricultural practices. This research sees EE as an useful tool to help small scaled farmers to get the most out of their land in a sustainable way. This research took place in the rural areas of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil were several educational platforms were examined. These platforms are formal and informal, reaching beyond education at schools. This research found that there are big differences of EE in place depending on the platform. These differences are partly due to the social actors who influence, mostly financial, the educational platform. EE exists of five components (Awareness, knowledge, attitude, skills and participation) that need to be fully in place for EE to be effective. This research states that the theory of the oppressed of Freire (1968) is the best way to enable a change in society. Freire describes four steps (1. The importance of dialogue, 2. Objectify the reality, 3. Critical view and problem posing, 4. Reflection and action) which work towards a movement. Education can direct this movement towards sustainable agriculture integrating the 5 components of EE in the 4 steps that Freire describes. This is not a movement that happens overnight. In the field it became visible that this is a transition rather than an event. This transition contains more than just a movement towards sustainable agriculture; an important movement is towards empowerment of the small farmers. Generating social capital for these farmers and empowering them is a key element for generating change.