Natalia Landívar is a right to food activist and academic committed to socially-engaged research. In 2016, she started a PhD at the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Manitoba. Before moving to Canada, she worked with Ecuadorian peasants’ organizations, as well as regional and international networks working for food sovereignty. She has drawn significantly upon her 15 years of work as an activist advocating for the right to food and peasant’s right to inform and articulate her academic research projects. Her MA and my PhD thesis shed light on agrarian policies in Ecuador and the land struggles of grassroots organizations.
Food Sovereignty and gendered equity in the access to and control of land in Ecuador
In 2008, Ecuador endorsed food sovereignty as a constitutional goal, recognizing, among other aims, the importance of equitable distribution of productive resources and the critical role of peasants, especially women, in the production of food. However, there are contradictions between the food sovereignty discourse and the implementation of policies that reinforce large-scale agro-industrial actors. My analysis centers on the understandings and practices of peasant organizations as well as other public actors involved in the food sovereignty policy in Guayas province, a region that has not been the research focus of critical agrarian scholars and rural development advocates. This article sheds light on the specific ways the demands and practices of the peasant organizations overlap or differ from the state’s official discourse and policies on food sovereignty. Importantly, my research looks at the role of women in building food sovereignty from below to break down adverse mechanisms that favour historical unequal and hierarchical power relations. My research is informed by 12 months of fieldwork in the province of Guayas in southwest Ecuador. It involved a comprehensive document review and 75 semi-structured interviews with peasant leaders, government officials and private industry representatives who are directly or indirectly participating in the public policy. The fieldwork also involved participatory observation of and engagement with the grassroots organizations based in the Hacienda Las Mercedes and La Indiana in many relevant activities, including advocacy work with public officials and regular assemblies. My research will contribute to existing research on the politics of food sovereignty in Ecuador by underscoring the contradictions between the state discourse of food sovereignty and its implementation of the land policy called Plan Tierras together with existing agrarian policies. This analysis is useful to better understand how Ecuador’s rural development model fails to meet the gender equity goals of food sovereignty of peasants based in the area of study, and the kind of alternative networks women are implementing to foster sustainable, democratic, and gender-equal food systems and maintain their land.
Affiliation: University of Manitoba