The president made the comments to the international press Friday during an interview at the presidential palace, Palacio de Planalto, located in Brasilia.
“Plant a grain of corn in the asphalt and it grows. It is a rich country for any type of harvest.”
Bolsonaro added, “saying that you go hungry in Brazil is a big lie, that you eat badly, this is true,” said the president without further clarification.
“You don’t see poor people with a skeletal physique (in Brazil) as you do in other countries,” said the head of state who was inaugurated in January.
United Nations data shows that in 2017, 26.5 percent of Brazil’s 211 million inhabitants, that’s over 54.8 million people and two million more over the previous year, were living below the poverty line, or living on US$5.50 per day. Poverty is concentrated in the country's northern and northeastern regions.
Right-wing Bolsonaro claimed the “distribution of wealth” of the previous left-leaning presidencies, referring to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, "consisted in distributing subsidies." Under Lula, Brazil's economy enjoyed low inflation, high GDP, and the reduction of unemployment and poverty. Poverty fell by 11 percent between 2006 and 2007 under the former president.
"To say that you go hungry in Brazil is a populist discourse, it's just that. What we have to do is facilitate the life of the entrepreneur, those who want to produce,” asserted the former military commander.
Brazilians living in extreme poverty, that is less than US$1.90 per day, increased from 13.5 million in 2016, the year Rousseff was overthrown by Michel Temer, to 15.2 million the following year.