Agroecology & Food Sovereignty

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples or communities to decide how they want to feed themselves and how they want to manage their resources to produce that food. Agroecology, on the other hand, is the science that studies agrarian ecosystems and the relationships between the different agents that make up that ecosystem. Both concepts come together in the practice of millions of peasants all over the world (Via Campesina), food sovereignty being the objective they pursue and agroecology the tool they use to achieve that objective.

In the present study we try to approach this reality by focusing on different practices or processes that are being developed in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. To do this, we will analyze data gathered through qualitative fieldwork (in-depth interviews and participant observation) carried out throughout 2018.

A preliminary analysis of these data shows us that collaborative collective action, the central notion of our research project, is a key piece in the gearing of the different experiences under study. It appears as a transversal element in spaces as dissimilar as internal organization models, decision-making processes, or ways of relating to the environment, communities and consumers.

In addition, we can observe that discourses work in the articulation of two levels of meaning: a theoretical and a practical one. The first, in a more or less veiled form, alludes to paradigms of thought and of political, social and economic organization as the common good, the feminist economy, or good living. The second refers to practical notions or ways of doing that are common to all the experiences studied: horizontality, mutual support, collectivization, assemblearism, direct democracy, and auzolan.

The second phase of the analysis will focus on the study of five concrete dimensions that will allow us, in turn, to delve into the impacts that these practices or processes have not only within the movement (their own logics and functions), but also towards the community or society at large:

  • Forms of organization and collective management (recover, share, collectivize);
  • Working methodologies (participatory action research, collective decision-making, dynamization and facilitation of processes);
  • Values (intersectionality, feminism, responsible consumption, co-responsibility, care, inclusiveness);
  • Socialization of what has been produced and relationship with consumers (consumer groups and cooperatives, markets, talks and forums for the community, school canteens); and
  • Public policies (public procurement, spatial planning, conflicts, resistances).

As a tentative hypothesis, we contend that these practices are not only contributing to transforming the primary sector and the rural environment, but are also influencing the food and consumption systems and habits of significant sectors within society.

Researcher: Izaskun Artegui Alcaide.