Campesino Organizations and Public Policies in Ecuador: From Neoliberal to Post-Neoliberal Rural Development, 2006-2016

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Clark, Patrick




Food sovereignty is a concept that has been popularized by the international coalition family-farmer and peasant organizations, La Via Campesina, or peasant way in English, since the organization was founded in the 1990s. The concept proposes agricultural production and agri-food economies controlled by small producers, understood as family farmers or "peasants", as an alternative to the consolidation of agricultural production. This study analyzes the impacts of the institutionalization of food sovereignty in Ecuador on public policies for agriculture and rural development during the "postneoliberal" government of Rafael Correa between 2006-2016. Drawing on the work of Peter Evans and others on the developmental state, I proposed that in order for this program to be implemented successfully policies for food sovereignty would necessitate the construction of what Evans calls "embedded autonomy" between organizations of smallholder agricultural producers and public institutions. In order to evaluate whether this dynamic emerged under the Correa government I analyze national-level policies and political dynamics and compare three cases of producer organizations at the sub-national level and the impacts of the post-neoliberal government's policies. In each case I analyze the relationship between the organization, national government programs, local governments and the politics of policy implementation considering whether the postneoliberal turn strengthened or hindered these organizations and their respective via campesina strategies. I argue that the Correa government transformed the neoliberal model of rural development interventions dominated by non-governmental organizations through increased public investment and new national programs for agricultural production. However, for the most part, these new post-neoliberal programs undermined the space in which embeddedness between state interventions and rural social organizations could have emerged. The government's rural development policies largely favored conventional agriculture and domestic agri-business firms which incorporated smallholders to produce agricultural commodities. I conclude that the gap between the policy framework for food sovereignty in Ecuador and the actual policies implemented by the Correa government reflect unresolved contradictions within food sovereignty.


Political Science
Economics - Agricultural
Latin American History




Carleton University

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Doctor of Philosophy: 

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Political Science

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Theses and Dissertations

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