The Amazonian Agriculture Graduate Program (PPGAA), recognized by CAPES in 2000, was created in the Interdisciplinary Area, with concept 4. Since the beginning, it has been the result of the conjunction of researchers from different backgrounds, but mainly from agronomists and social scientists, having as common link the scientific interest in the issue of Family Agriculture and Sustainable Development in the Amazon and in the systemic approach. The doctoral and master's courses are of interinstitutional responsibility, involving the Federal University of Pará and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, through its unit in Belém, Embrapa Amazônia Oriental.
The main objective of the Amazonian Agriculture Graduate Program continues to be the production of knowledge on agrarian and environmental issues involving family farming in the Amazon and the training of teachers, researchers, professionals and leaders who work in the agrarian space, whether in the teaching, in the elaboration of public policies focused on the rural environment, in the implementation of research-development actions focused on agriculture and family extraction, and in the support and consolidation of teaching focused on the agrarian reality. Among the basic concerns of the Program, we highlight the training of human resources capable of working in close collaboration with the different forms of organization of family agricultural and extractive production, both with regard to technical-economic changes in production systems and the improvement of management of natural resources and public policies with a view to sustainable rural development.
The origin of the PPGAA, whose conception was established in the early 1990s, corresponds to the academic initiative, pioneered at UFPA and in the North of Brazil, of integrating agrarian and environmental issues, focusing on Family Agriculture, which at that time was little recognized. UFPA was created in 1957, but the Agricultural Center, which later became the Center for Agricultural Sciences and Rural Development and is now the Amazon Institute of Family Farms (INEAF), officially arises only in 1994. Before its official creation, researchers Brazilians and Frenchmen had already worked in research and development associated with the agro-environmental issue, in close relationship with the organizations of family farmers. These researchers were already concerned with the renewal and expansion of a cadre of professionals capable of answering agrarian questions in complex environments. In this perspective, in 1991, the Specialization course on Family Agriculture and Agro-environmental Development in the Amazon (DAZ – Portuguese Acronym) was conceived, which was initially housed at the Center for High Amazon Studies (NAEA – Portuguese acronym) at UFPA, until the creation of the Agricultural Center. Within the scope of this course, it was possible to put into practice, for the first time in the Amazon context, a set of innovative theoretical and methodological principles, of an interdisciplinary character, aimed at the study of regional Family Agriculture in an interdisciplinary way, contextualized socially, economically, environmentally and politically.
The conception that supported the creation of the PPGAA was based on the idea of combining the production of scientific knowledge about local Family Agriculture with the training of human resources, capable of reflecting and intervening in this reality. For that, two conditions were necessary: i) be in association and dialogue with the different forms of social organization of family farmers, and thus guarantee the immersion of the student in this reality to be researched; and ii) a theoretical and methodological approach that would make it possible to understand the complexity of production systems practiced by Amazonian family farmers.
The proposal to work with training at the postgraduate level comes from the realization, not only of the reality of higher education in the Amazon, but throughout the country, with notable exceptions, that there is a deficiency in Universities in dealing with rural development problems with due regard to the protagonism of the subjects and local specificities. This misconception is due to the distant relationship between academia and society, and is reflected in the teaching itself, which segments knowledge and disregards subjects who live in specific situations. This conception is also, to a large extent, derived from the way in which part of the research has been conceived, that is, in a way alienated from peasant situations and needs.
The Doctorate course in Family Farming and Sustainable Development (DAFDS) follows the initial steps of the master's degree, which is defined by the combination of interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches in order to provide the production of knowledge on the main themes that deal with the complexity of production family-based in rural areas and the conditions for its transformation. The adoption of interdisciplinarity to address rural development seeks, in a first step, to rigorously appropriate the theories and methodologies of classical disciplines. Then, investing research efforts in areas that constitute boundaries between disciplinary approaches, seeking integrating scientific theories and practices. In the next stage, we seek to consolidate this constant exercise, which allows an interdisciplinary reading of family farming in the Amazon and its social, economic and environmental relations. Exercising interdisciplinarity requires constant reflection and review of the different currents of thought about the social and economic formation of the Amazon, the development models and the local agrarian dynamics in their relationship with the global ones. In addition to this contextualization, interdisciplinarity is required in studies on family farming itself, studying biophysical and ecological factors, logic of technical development and regional social and economic conditions in an integrated manner, in a systemic perspective from different perspectives.
Both the PPGAA master's and doctoral degrees are interinstitutional responsibility courses, involving the Federal University of Pará and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, through its unit in Belém, Embrapa Amazônia Oriental. This association of the two institutions goes back to the beginning of the master's degree.
When the PPGAA was created, there was an intense partnership between the then NCADR / UFPA-Campus of Belém, now INEAF / UFPA, and colleges on two campuses at UFPA in the interior, in the municipalities of Altamira and Marabá, for the viability of undergraduate courses created by the PPGAA group: Degree in Agricultural Sciences and a Bachelor's Degree in Agronomy, both from the perspective of Family Agriculture. From the beginning, the partnership was intended to train professionals in line with the demands of family farmers and to mobilize the graduates of these courses in the countryside to continue their training, at the postgraduate level, in the capital, Belém.
More recently, PPGAA has expanded its activities to several other regions, including with the support of its graduates, with approximately 25 of them as professors at Federal Institutes or even at UFPA in the interior of Pará. In addition, many graduates collaborate with the regional insertion PPGAA's research and students for working in several institutions linked to family farming in rural areas, such as extension companies, state or private, ICMbio, local Agriculture and Environment Departments.
However, the Program's main regional insertion strategy has always been established through interaction with peasant social movements, with which the demands for research and extension are built.
Regarding the academic / scientific insertion of PPGAA in the Interdisciplinary area, it is made possible through collaborations and exchanges with teaching and research institutions, both national and international, as will be described in a specific item below. These national collaborations, especially those with institutions operating throughout the Amazon, also guarantee regional capillarity.
The main purpose of the Amazonian Agriculture Graduate Program continues to be the production of knowledge on agrarian and environmental issues involving family farming in the Amazon and the training of teachers, researchers, professionals and leaders who work in the agrarian space, whether in the teaching, in the elaboration of public policies focused on the rural environment, in the implementation of research-development actions focused on agriculture and family extraction, and in the support and consolidation of teaching focused on the agrarian reality. Among the basic concerns of the Program, we highlight the training of human resources capable of working in close collaboration with the different forms of organization of family agricultural and extractive production, both with regard to technical-economic changes in production systems and the improvement of management of natural resources and public policies with a view to sustainable rural development.
Along the trajectory of the PPGAA, several researchers with different degrees passed, leaving their mark. For the current master's and doctorate, the faculty is now composed of professors who ensure the interdisciplinarity of courses in the thematic sub-area of Environment and Agrarian. Today we have 20% of professors with degrees in the large Multidisciplinary area, 50% in Human Sciences, 10% in Biological Sciences and 20% in Agrarian Sciences. Due to this eclectic profile, teachers are included in undergraduate courses at several faculties at UFPA, in addition to undergraduate courses in Rural Development. We see that, although they do not have a degree in the Interdisciplinary area, several professors had their academic trajectory combining a degree in one subject area and a graduate degree in another. Therefore, the teaching staff has managed to maintain a diversified and interdisciplinary portfolio of research, extension and development projects.
The history of the course has also been built by an interesting student body, coming from different undergraduate courses, the main ones being: Agronomy, Forest Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Biology, Law, Geography, History, Pedagogy, Tourism, Food Technology, Sociology and Anthropology. Graduates fall into different areas and institutional positions, including as doctoral students at different universities. Through a PROCAD carried out with the PGDR - Rural Development Graduate Program at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, several of our graduates successfully participated in sandwich masters, three entered with excellent classifications in the doctorate of that university, others in the Unicamp, UFOPA, UFRA and UFSC.
Since the last quadrennium, there has been an increase in the participation of PPGAA professors in PGDR boards and in other PPGs in Brazil, in this interaction the interest of potential candidates from other regions of the country for our Program was noticed. Since 2014, the Master's selection has also been carried out in other municipalities in the country: Campinas, Rio de Janeiro, São Luís, Porto Alegre, Campina Grande, Cuiabá, Manaus, Rio Branco, in addition to Belém, Altamira, Marabá, Paragominas and Cametá, in Pará. This interest also comes from foreign students. In recent years, through spontaneous demand and via the GCUB Program (Coimbra Group of Brazilian Universities) and OAS (Organization of American States). Fulbright also financed the participation of two master's students from France for a year in our Master's degree, just as we have received scholarships from CNPq and Capes, students from Colombia, Bolivia, Costa Rica and other Latin American countries, in addition to students North Americans, Venezuelans and French who come to the Program every year to develop studies, internships and field research through bilateral exchanges or scholarships for common research projects.
The emphasis on two lines of research that combine social, environmental and agrarian sciences, focusing on rural social movements, agroecology and the systemic approach, distinguishes PPGAA courses from others in the North, specifically in the State of Pará. region tend to specialization and fragmentation, with doctorates founded in each of the different areas of knowledge, lacking the scope and articulated perspective that our proposal envisions.