From the “Made in USA” tradition to the agroecological paradigm
Rural extension in Brazil was introduced in 1948, with the economic support of public and private organizations in the United States, as part of Third World development aid programs. Another part of this support would be consummated through the advice of American experts, trained within the institutionalized sociology in that country, which determined the influence of the dominant social thought in the USA, at that time, on the conformation of Brazilian extensionism.
Therefore, in order to understand the development of the extension activity in our country, as well as the reasons that led it to follow a determined – and often mistaken – action strategy, it is important to be clear that the models, objectives and practice of the extension Brazilian rural areas were not born out of local demand and, moreover, they did not develop based on a theoretical basis that corresponded to the reality of the rural environment and Brazilian agrarian development.
According to petsinclude, the institutionalized rural extension was born in the United States at the root of the agrarian crisis that followed the Civil War, in a context of accelerated development of the productive forces and of profound change in the capitalist relations of production, becoming one of the policy tools designed to mitigate the detrimental effects that that development model had on rural communities. In addition, it responded to the demands of farmers’ organizations, which sought the support of the State to stop the problems generated by the advance of capitalism in the countryside: market problems, rising input prices, rural exodus , etc …
Furthermore, as is well known, rural extension in the United States was born under the guidance of the “sociology of rural life”, with a clear inclination for “community studies”, which established the theoretical and methodological bases for the later Cooperative Rural Extension Service . It should be noted that the model that would be institutionalized started from some assumptions determined by the general policies of capitalist development that were underway. Among these, the logic of the urban-industrial development model stood out, according to which a strong transformation in agriculture would be necessary so that this sector could support the desired industrial growth. This model adopted the assumption that urbanization was a unique and irreversible path, so that the rural environment should be integrated into the urban environment,
Thus, and starting from this base, the model of rural extension created in the United States of America was transferred to Brazil, at a time when the debate on the issue of development was centered on the search for elements capable of explaining the backwardness of our country. , in relation to the developed centers, in order to allow mechanisms to be established to overcome underdevelopment. In the classic dichotomies, much to the liking of the theorists of that time, the Brazilian rural environment was seen as the backward sector and was held responsible for the problems of development. Given this view, it was thought that the rural environment should be transformed, adapting to the general development model, which proposed a deliberate industrial development policy, also in Brazil.
Following the recommendations of the manuals of the time, the fact that underdevelopment was one of the results of development and capitalist accumulation, which was accelerating in industrialized centers (outside and within the country) was disregarded. In this perspective, the policy for agribusiness started from the understanding that the rural sector was backward and that, necessarily, it should “modernize”. In addition, the political, economic and social problems of the 50s (crisis of the agro-export model, deficit in the trade balance, etc…) opened spaces to house strategies that assumed the need to qualify and expand agricultural production, which was welcome the idea of an incentive and support service for the modernization of agriculture.
Thus, from 1948 onwards, rural extension organizations were created in Brazil, under the name of Associations of Credit and Rural Assistance – ACAR. By the end of the 1950s, these organizations were already present in almost all Brazilian states. In Rio Grande do Sul, as part of the same movement, in 1955, ASCAR – Southern Credit and Rural Assistance Association, now known as EMATER / RS – Riograndense Association of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Enterprises, was created in 1977. , and that works in conjunction with ASCAR.