5% of Brazil’s indigenous people live in the state of São Paulo. Among it, the majority of this population (91%) lives in urban areas outside of indigenous lands. However, there are still about 5,000 people from these populations who live on indigenous lands (regularized or not yet).
The dilemma faced by most indigenous villages in the state of São Paulo is to ensure healthy and adequate food on lands that do not have the appropriate conditions for physical and cultural survival. Even indigenous peoples with regularized lands are struggling to promote their food sovereignty.
The food sovereignty of Indigenous peoples is directly linked to the guarantee of their territories. “For us the earth is everything. Without land, we are nothing: we do not live, we do not have a culture. Once the land is demarcated, we have space to develop fields, plant, to live in our own way. Without land, the community does not exist, there is no life“, says Sérgio Martins Popyguá, from the indigenous land of Aguapeú.
The realization of the right to land is with no doubt the first fundamental step to guarantee the food sovereignty of indigenous peoples. Autonomy of property and full access to natural resources are the conditions to produce food that meets their needs and their food culture. For the anthropologist Maria Emilia Pacheco, it is not possible to talk about the fight against food insecurity without questioning the demarcation and possession of land and the excessive dumping of pesticides. “Without the territorial issue, which is a fundamental issue, it is very difficult to talk about the food sovereignty of indigenous peoples“, she said.
In the state of São Paulo, territorial security remains a challenge, as only 13 of the 31 indigenous lands recognized by Funai (Fundação Nacional do Indio – National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples) are demarcated and approved. The problem of food insecurity, however, is verified even in demarcated lands, as most of them do not have adequate conditions for their physical and cultural survival. Tiny lands, a growing population putting pressure on limited natural resources and new consumption patterns are among the factors of food insecurity for the indigenous peoples of São Paulo who have poor access to food, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
 The State of São Paulo is one of the 26 states of the Federative Republic of Brazil; state whose capital is the city of São Paulo. The State of São Paulo is the largest economic and industrial centre of Brazil. The process of occupation of the region ended up confining the indigenous peoples in small size lands which, together with the growth of the indigenous population and the adoption of new eating habits built the scenario of food insecurity.