Listening to the Voice of Pachamama: Assessing Food Sovereignty as a Local Strategy for Community Well-Being in Ecuador
This thesis explores how the concepts of food sovereignty and agroecology have been adopted in Ecuador, and evaluates their potential to contribute to farming communities' well-being. It draws on the perceptions of civil society and grassroots movements. Consequently, this study has adopted a multiple case study approach. The first case study analyses the formation and consolidation into a single movement of a federation of peasant movements that pursue food sovereignty as one of their main objectives. The way in which food sovereignty has been institutionalised within the movement is elucidated, in order to examine the strategies put into place by the social apparatus. The second case study carefully examines a community undertaking that has successfully applied the principles of food sovereignty, while improving the farmers' livelihoods. This case study elaborates on the specific characteristics inherent in the practice of food sovereignty and agroecology in the field, and intertwines this information with the culture and philosophy of the community involved. In order to identify the potentiality of replication, the community undertaking is put into global perspective through a comparative analysis that allows the identification of local and global influences that can make such an initiative successful. Acknowledging that food sovereignty is a holistic and complex concept, and that appropriate frameworks need to be established, this study has scrutinised the current governance framework in Ecuador, and consequently suggested policy recommendations that would support the widespread practice of food sovereignty and agroecology. Two aspects beyond the research objectives have emerged: firstly, the potential of the food sovereignty approach for the improvement of farmers' livelihoods; and secondly, the political significance of the concept, manifested through resistance and resilience at the grassroots level.