The alert was given in 1914: "The manioc is without shame. " There was no lack of warning. The root of the Brazilian problems was exposed by Monteiro Lobato, in the short story "Urupês", denouncing this "bread already crushed by nature. Just pluck a root and lay it on the coals. It does not impose a harvest, nor does it require a barn. The planting is done with a branch spanned on any floor. Does not ask for care. The ant does not attack it. Manioc is shameless. "
This plant originated in the Amazon region, also known as apipim or macaxeira, imprisoned, for centuries, the outbreak of the national power. From the soil of the country, just lay a branch in the same hole from where it left, and in a few months, without requiring any additional effort, you will have another manioc grown on site. Being willing to dig a few more holes, break the stem, bury its pieces and, with one foot, another ten will be produced. But do not be fooled by this apparent gift of nature, which is only a gift in the primitive world of hunters and gatherers. In modern society, this infinite source of easy food, has become evolutionary atavism, condemning the nation to backwardness. The "undoubted mercies of cassava" robbed Brazil the inspiring urgency, the mother of so many inventions arising in the hostile environments far away, where human life has steadily established itself. That is why Monteiro Lobato affirmed that we would not advance as long as we had this "bread whose preparation is summed up in the planting, harvesting and throwing on embers ... There are goods that come to evils. THE manioc illustrates this reverse proverb. "
It was not simple to solve the problem. THE manioc was embedded in very deep levels of the national soul. The food base of the country, present in all tables, in the most diverse forms, flavors and combinations, the manioc gave identity to several regions, linking them with this same cultural root. From cheese bread to tucupi, from farofa to tapioca, from silly to cauim - defeating cassava demanded a change of old eating habits and the construction of a new cultural identity in the country.
How to fight against a plant that so Brazil and was so viscerally linked to the customs of the Nation? The answer was simpler than imagined: another plant. Wheat, the food base of developed countries, came to save us from being late.
The development of a country, as everyone knows, follows a single, well-defined road map. First, replace the local culture with the culture of a developed country, also copying its institutions. Then ask for their help so that your country can also become wealthy and prosperous. They will soon send in technicians, and even money, if need be. Luckily, this was the script followed here.
When Pero Vaz de Caminha wrote to the king of Portugal saying that he had arrived in the land where "everything will happen", he should not have considered the wheat in his evaluation. Despite the enormous productivity gains promoted by EMBRAPA, the pace of growth in cereal production has never been sufficient to meet growing consumption (we still produce only half of what we consume today, Brazil one of the largest global importers of the product). So, at the outset, we need external aid from the US food aid program, with the entry into force Public Law 480 , expanded by President Kennedy in 1961. This humanitarian aid provided us with long-term credits for the purchase of US wheat, which commodity produced in those blessed lands. As a result, the per capita consumption of Brazil increased rapidly, fueling our rapid urbanization process with the emergence of thousands of bakeries in every corner of the country.
We win manioc ! It was a hard, time-consuming and, above all, expensive process, but we won. And not a few were the saboteurs who appeared in this war - the traditional supporters of backwardness who live trapped in their impossible dreams. The laws of the economic world are simple and clear, as described two paragraphs above. And do not talk to me about a trade deficit! The constant deficit that this food change has always caused was a low price to get rid of the vegetable obstacle that prevented the development of the country. We finally got modernized. Nothing more than kisses. We are as modern as the Italians and their pizzas, as refined as the French, eating baguette, croissant and bread, which here has been called "French," so that we never forget our private war and our larger goals.
But it's amazing how longing for the old order does not give up. Today, in the middle of the year 2018, we have a pre-candidate for the presidency of the Republic that repeats, throughout the country, its mantra of "bread is wheat and wheat is dollar", trying to generate mistrust in the population of which our war for the modernization of the country was unnecessary, expensive and unproductive. Do you believe that?
And he does not come alone. The possible vice in his plate has his fingerprints in the fight against the tritícola revolution in the country. On 2001, the deputy then came up with a study that proved that the addition of 10% of refined manioc flour in wheat flour did not change his culinary qualities at all, he decided to propose a law that required this increase in wheat flour sold here (PL 4.679). Obviously, the media, aware of all the effort expended to get rid of this cursed root, gave the change to the height, ridiculing the deputy by all possible means and preventing the voting of that law. The deputy insisted that the quality of wheat flour would not change, that this change would benefit family farming, from which almost all manioc of the country, and that this would reduce the trade deficit by replacing part of the wheat imported with a product made here. That is, he pretended not to know that it was a war, and not a spreadsheet account.
Defeated on the first attempt, he remained committed to his conspiracy. Some time later, as president of the Chamber of Deputies, he created a committee to evaluate the matter, which would dismiss the plenary vote for approval. And do you believe that the majority of the 29 Members of the Commission were about to vote in favor of this sandice ?!
The action needed to be swift. The largest Brazil threatened to transfer to Argentina should the modification be approved, and organizations involved in the bakery sector pressured the deputies who were in the Commission. The brave president of ABIP (Brazilian Association of Bakery Industries) still denounced the interventionist spirit of the law, saying that "the obligation would compromise the traditional French bread. Without the addition being imposed, the bakery sector could create the 'Brazilian bread', which could be produced with manioc in place of the wheat flour. "
In the end, a good agreement was signed for all: no one would be obliged to follow the law and everything would continue as before. The 'Brazilian bread' remained harmless, feeding only the world of rhetoric.
The battle was won, but the war continues. The saboteurs do not rest. They confuse the head of the population. They are obsessed with the idea of saving the enemy, reversing the changes made with great difficulty, and preventing the eradication of this poison spread on our lands. Occasionally, someone with a supposed "innovation" manioc , giving survival to the vegetable. Biodegradable (and even edible) styrofoam, biofuels, medicines, cosmetics and new culinary recipes (of course, without the gluten-free).
On 2017 we had good news. THE manioc was chosen by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the food of the 21st century that, in addition to being healthy, will be used to fight hunger. It is the chance we needed to complete our modernization and get rid of the delay by exporting it to the backward.