Protesters occupy Brazil's agriculture ministry

Rio De Janeiro, Oct 17 (IANS) Protesting Brazilian farmers occupied Wednesday the country's agriculture ministry in Brasilia to demand "global action on food sovereignty" as part of World Food Day celebrations.

Thousands of demonstrators from several Brazilian farming organisations gathered at the ministry's headquarters calling for better conditions for farmers, land reform, transformation of the agri-business sector and the rejection of over-commercialisation of agriculture, Xinhua reported.

As ministry staff began arriving for work, several scuffles took place with members of Brazil's Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST), one of the farmer organisations, leading military police to intervene.

Zelindo Pereira, secretary of the National Confederation of Agriculture Workers (Contag), said his organisation submitted a petition of demands to the government, and is negotiating a meeting between the two sides.

Pereira said farmers would occupy the ministry indefinitely, adding demonstrators were "prepared to stay in the building for a whole week".

More than 5,000 workers are waiting for a signal from labour leaders to rally in other parts of Brasilia, he said.

In recent months, Brazil's landless peasant farmers have staged several protests, citing that President Dilma Rousseff's government has "abandoned" the issue of land reform, the MST said in a statement.

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