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1 RETURN TO PACHAMAMA? : THE DIFFUSION OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN ECUADOR by Sophie Fuchs Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment for the degree of BACHELOR OF ARTS in DEVELOPMENT STUDIES Development Studies Brown University April 5, 2011 Advising Professors: Cornel Ban and Kathryn DeMaster


3 SOPHIE FUCHS Cornel Ban Kathryn DeMaster

4 Sophie Fuchs, 2011

5 Abstract Organic products and agriculture are an increasingly popular topic in the development agenda. While research on organic agriculture in the Global North is extensive, literature focusing on organic agriculture in the Global South is lacking. Given the growing integration of world markets, it is essential to study both global spheres and their relationship with each other. This thesis starts to fill in this gap by exploring how organic agriculture spreads using the case study of Ecuador. It asks: To what extent does the process of transition to organic agriculture within countries represent the diffusion of innovation from the Global North to the Global South? What are the actors, motivations, values, and mechanisms at play in this process of diffusion? The thesis tests the applicability of classical and modern diffusion theories to explain how the alternative sustainable agricultural model moves in a developing country. It proposes a threestranded hypothesis that critiques classical diffusion and neoclassical economics: globalization and transnational diffusion, global south cultural context, and organic agriculture as a softwarebased innovation. The alternative hypothesis of endogenous adoption posits that organic agriculture represents an isolated national phenomenon and a social movement. Using primary data collected from a community of small producers, as well as representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ecuador, this study begins to trace the network of actors that affect how organic agriculture spreads between the national and sub national level. The study finds that the spread of organic agriculture is a multi-faceted process that includes a tension between economic and social factors. Nationally, public institutions like the Ministry of Agriculture serve as the central nodes of the network, but their initiatives to promote organic agriculture are less developed than those of both foreign and domestic NGOs. Key actors are more successful in spreading organic agriculture if they are perceived as legitimate and capable leaders. However, a change in these perceived qualities over time can affect the diffusion process. The degree to which small producers can adopt and continue organic practices depends on their ability to overcome barriers to entry, including access to natural resources, information, and organic markets. The spread of modern organic agriculture appears to follow the top-down diffusion model. However, a growing grassroots agroecology movement follows a more decentralized approach. Agroecology represents a critical response of organic agriculture and an opportunity for more actor agency at the sub national level of Ecuador. We find that neoclassical economics is a foil for explaining the process of organic agricultural diffusion due to the presence of an increasingly active social network. The classical diffusion model must be revised to address this modern innovation such that economic and social integration, power dynamics, local contexts, and the unique qualities of organic agriculture as an innovation are included in the analysis. This thesis offers a new approach to studying both the diffusion of innovation and the spread of an alternative agricultural model in the Global South. Key Words: Organic agriculture; diffusion; Ecuador; agroecology; small farmers; networks


7 ~ This thesis is dedicated to the people of Perucho. May you live long, healthy, and happy lives. ~


9 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Writing this thesis would not have been possible without the kindness and hospitality of the people of Ecuador. I was welcomed with open arms into the small community of Perucho and around the country during my travels. I especially want to thank Michael Ayala for his hospitality and for imparting his wisdom about organic agriculture as I volunteered on his farm in Perucho during the summer of Thank you to all of the farmers, community members, and members of governmental and non-governmental organizations who were willing to take part in my research project for this thesis. Ecuador is an amazing country without parallel. Special thanks also to Cornel Ban who also helped me to shape this project through Methods in Development Studies Research and Thesis Writing in Development Studies. He pushed me to think critically and spent countless hours providing feedback to make my work shine. Thank you to Kathryn DeMaster for advising during the entire process of my project from preparation in spring 2010, to my fieldwork in the summer, to writing my thesis this year. She provided invaluable advice to make this project a success. Thanks also to my friends and family for supporting me as I went off to a new country over the summer and for putting up with me as I wrote this thesis. i

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11 ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS AGROCALIDAD ASEAN BMZ BTC CEA CIALCO COSUDE EU FONAP GDP GIZ ha IFOAM INIAP KfW MAGAP NGO PGS POAE PROBIO RGS U.S. USDA VECO Andino Agencia Ecuatoriana de Aseguramiento de la Calidad del Agro Association of Southeast Asian Nations German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Belgian Development Agency Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Agroecología Constructora Importadora Alvarez Burbano S.A. Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation European Union Federación de Organizaciones por la Niñez y Adolescencia de Pichincha Gross Domestic Product Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit Hectare International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements Instituto Nacional Autónomo de Investigaciones Agropecuarias Bankengruppe (Germany) Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería, Acuacultura y Pesca (Ecuador) Non-governmental organization Participatory Guarantee System (SPG in Spanish) Perucho Organic Agriculture Experience Corporación Ecuatoriana de Agricultores Biológicos La Red de Guardianes de Semillas United States United States Department of Agriculture Vredeseilanden Country Office en la región Andina iii

12 TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS......i ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS...iii LIST OF TABLES.vii LIST OF FIGURES..viii CHAPTER 1 1 Sowing the Seed for Global South Organic Agriculture CHAPTER Historical Background on Organic Agriculture and Ecuador Figure 2.1 Organic Logos in the European Union (old and new) and the United States Table 2.1 Estimated Organic Land in Ecuador Figure 2.2 Map of Perucho and Ruta Escondida Figure 2.3 Main Road to Perucho Figure 2.4 Author drying coffee beans Figure 2.5 Serpentine plot of sweet potatoes CHAPTER Organic Agriculture for Development: Institutions and (Inter)national NGOs Table 3.1 Leading Institutions in Ecuador Controlling Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Table 3.2 Leading NGOs in Ecuador Promoting Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Figure 3.1 Schematic of Relationships between Organic Agriculture Actors CHAPTER Spreading the Organic Model: A Case Study of Perucho Farmers Table 4.1 Syllabus of Perucho Organic Agriculture Class Figure 4.1 Announcements Advertising Organic Agriculture Course in Perucho Figure 4.2 Classroom and Fieldwork Activities in Perucho Organic Agriculture Class Figure 4.3 Compiled Values among Small Farmers in Perucho Table 4.2 Organic Agricultural Practices Implemented by Farmers in Perucho iv

13 Table 4.3 Organic Agricultural Practices Perucho Farmers Consider Important Table 4.4 Type of Agriculture Practiced by Farmers in Perucho Table 4.5 Stage of Organic Agriculture Adoption by Perucho Farmers Figure 4.7 Organic Agriculture Class Provides a Social Space for the Community CHAPTER Putting Ideas into Practice: Barriers to Entry for Organic Farmers Table 5.1 Hectares of Cultivated Land of Perucho Farmers Table 5.2 Characteristics of Land Cultivated by Perucho Farmers Figure 5.1 Typical Piece of Agricultural Land in Perucho Facing Water and Fertility Issues Figure 5.2 Michael Ayala Preparing Biol with Organic Agriculture Class Table 5.3 Barrier of Access to Information and Support Table 5.4 Sources of Information about Organic Agriculture Figure 5.3 Additional Sources of Information on Organic Agriculture Used by Class Participants CHAPTER Access to the Organic Market: To Certify or Not to Certify? Figure 6.1 Labels Used by Producers Table 6.1 Media Ecuadorians Use to Learn about Health and Nutrition Figure 6.2 Evidence of Organic and Natural Products in Ecuadorian Supermarkets Table 6.2 The Market and Sale of Products for Perucho Farmers Figure 6.3 Participatory Guarantee System Actors and Relations Figure 6.4 Process of Participatory Guarantee System Figure 6.5 Location of Farmer s Markets in Quito in 2010 Figure 6.6 Farmer s Markets in Tumbaco and Quito Figure 6.7 Campaign Poster for Agroecology Movement CHAPTER Drawing Conclusions: What Happens to Ecuadorian Organic Agriculture? Figure 7.1 Schematic of Organic Agriculture Diffusion in Ecuador v

14 ENDNOTES 101 APPENDIX..111 Works Cited.111 Additional Chapter Data..118 Figure 1.1 Classical Diffusion Theory S-Curve Figure 4.4 Economic Values among Small Farmers in Perucho Figure 4.5 Health and Environment Values among Small Farmers in Perucho Figure 4.6 Culture and Justice Values among Small Farmers in Perucho Interview and Survey Questions..121 Initial Findings Presented to Perucho Community..128 Brown Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval and Informed Consent Form.143 Interviews.146 Interview Transcripts vi

15 LIST OF TABLES Table 2.1 Estimated Organic Land in Ecuador (hectares)...24 Table 3.1 Leading Institutions in Ecuador Controlling Organic and Sustainable Agriculture..31 Table 3.2 Leading NGOs in Ecuador Promoting Organic and Sustainable Agriculture...38 Table 4.1 Syllabus of Perucho Organic Agriculture Class 48 Table 4.2 Organic Agricultural Practices Implemented by Farmers in Perucho...53 Table 4.3 Organic Agricultural Practices Perucho Farmers Consider Important..53 Table 4.4 Type of Agriculture Practiced by Farmers in Perucho Table 4.5 Stage of Organic Agriculture Adoption by Perucho Farmers 54 Table 5.1 Hectares of Cultivated Land of Perucho Farmers. 63 Table 5.2 Characteristics of Land Cultivated by Perucho Farmers...63 Table 5.3 Barrier of Access to Information and Support...71 Table 5.4 Sources of Information about Organic Agriculture...73 Table 6.1 Media Ecuadorians Use to Learn about Health and Nutrition...78 Table 6.2 The Market and Sale of Products for Perucho Farmers.81 vii

16 LIST OF FIGURES Figure 2.1 Organic Logos in the European Union (old and new) and the United States...18 Figure 2.2 Map of Perucho and Ruta Escondida...25 Figure 2.3 Main Road to Perucho..26 Figure 2.4 Author drying coffee beans..27 Figure 2.5 Serpentine plot of sweet potatoes.27 Figure 3.1 Schematic of Relationships between Organic Agriculture Actors...42 Figure 4.1 Announcements Advertising Organic Agriculture Course in Perucho 49 Figure 4.2 Classroom and Fieldwork Activities in Perucho Organic Agriculture Class...50 Figure 4.3 Compiled Values among Small Farmers in Perucho 51 Figure 4.7 Organic Agriculture Class Provides a Social Space for the Community.57 Figure 5.1 Typical Piece of Agricultural Land in Perucho Facing Water and Fertility Issues..67 Figure 5.2 Michael Ayala Preparing Biol with Organic Agriculture Class...70 Figure 5.3 Additional Sources of Information on Organic Agriculture Used by Participants..73 Figure 6.1 Labels Used by Producers 76 Figure 6.2 Evidence of Organic and Natural Products in Ecuadorian Supermarkets 79 Figure 6.3 Participatory Guarantee System Actors and Relations.82 Figure 6.4 Process of Participatory Guarantee System..82 Figure 6.5 Location of Farmer s Markets in Quito in Figure 6.6 Farmer s Markets in Tumbaco and Quito 85 Figure 6.7 Campaign Poster for Agroecology Movement 86 Figure 7.1 Schematic of Organic Agriculture Diffusion in Ecuador 94 Figure 1.1 Classical Diffusion Theory S-Curve..118 Figure 4.4 Economic Values among Small Farmers in Perucho.119 Figure 4.5 Health and Environment Values among Small Farmers in Perucho..119 Figure 4.6 Culture and Justice Values among Small Farmers in Perucho viii

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19 CHAPTER 1. Sowing the Seed for Global South Organic Agriculture Don t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn t recognize as food Michael Pollan When you're cooking with food as alive as this these gorgeous and semigorgeous fruits and leaves and flesh you're in no danger of mistaking it for a commodity, or a fuel, or a collection of chemical nutrients" Michael Pollan 1 Journalist Michael Pollan and movies like Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation have made it clear that there is something wrong with our food system, and we need to change it quickly. The solution many of these food activists prescribe is organic agriculture. 2 First we imagined that only hippies in touch with their earth spirits grew and ate something called organic food. Now, however, through Whole Foods stores or farmers markets, many modern Americans are familiar with this alternative agricultural model. That typical consumer has changed to the wealthy young urban professional who wants to feed her children the healthiest foods available. After all, organic bananas cost $0.79 a pound, while their non-organic equivalent costs $0.69. Organic broccoli costs $2.49 a pound, while non-organic broccoli is $1.99 per pound. 3 But whether for the dreadlocked or the elite, we have to face it: organic food is hip and it appears here to stay. Despite the higher costs, organic products are more and more popular with Americans for health, environmental, and social reasons. This trend exists not only in the United States (U.S.) but also around the world. Indeed, as of 2007, there were 32.2 million hectares of organic agricultural land and over 1.2 million organic producers worldwide. 4 Only about one third of this land for organic production is in developing countries, with the majority of the 11 million hectares within Latin America. 5 However, organic agricultural production in the Global South is rising rapidly. In Latin America, land for organic agriculture increased by 28 percent in But how do small farmers in the developing world adopt organic agriculture? Why do they choose to adopt these practices? While American producers and consumers can more easily access organics with price premiums, small farmers in developing countries face barriers such as high certification costs and the risk of losing both their crops and their subsistence income. Yet we see that organic agricultural production in developing countries increases annually. This trend appears in the wake of a longer history of modern organic production in Europe and the United States starting in the early 1900 s. 7 On the other hand, modern organic agriculture shares striking similarities with traditional agriculture prior to chemical use. Does the expansion of organic agriculture in the developing world respond to the diffusion of a Western agricultural 1

20 model or the traditional agriculture practiced by communities for centuries? Are these practices mutually exclusive or can they coexist and spread as a hybrid model of agricultural practice? Research Question With this puzzle in mind, my thesis explores the diffusion of organic agriculture as an innovation in the developing world. To what extent does the process of transition to organic agriculture represent the diffusion of innovation from the Global North to the Global South? What are the actors and mechanisms at play in this process of diffusion? What motivations and values cause farmers in Ecuador to consider and to adopt organic practices? Key Terms Defined In this thesis, organic agriculture is defined as an agricultural system that sustains a mutually beneficial relationship between soil, people, and the environment. The system is based on the natural processes of the local environment that do not require inputs, such as chemicals, and it combines tradition, innovation and science to promote a set of modern, alternative practices to those maintained by conventional agriculture. 8 Diffusion is defined as a process by which people in a social system pass along the ideas and/or practices of an innovation among members of the system. This process involves a change in the social system, either in structure or in function, as a result of the communication and adoption of this innovation. 9 The Global North and Global South are defined as follows: The Global North includes those countries with high human development and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, most of which are found in the Northern Hemisphere. The Global South includes those countries with medium and low human development and GDP per capita, most of which are located in the Southern Hemisphere. The Global South generally includes the regions of South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. 10 Literature Review Organic agriculture is a distinctive agricultural system. 11 Therefore, explaining its spread requires a complex set of variables. While neoclassical economics factors into the equation given the niche market for organic products, economic theory is not sufficient to explain how organic agriculture moves. Classical diffusion studies provide an integral framework for considering organic agriculture as an innovation, as well as the potential actors and mechanisms. However, three critiques arise from classical diffusion: globalization and transnational spread of ideas, third world cultural context, and organic agriculture as a unique innovation. These three strands show how we cannot take classical diffusion at face value. Instead, the strands must weave together as necessary elements to explain organic agricultural diffusion in the developing world. Neoclassical Economics as a Foil Neoclassical economic theory likely plays a role in the spread of organic agriculture (Veblen 1900; Stigler 1941; Aspromourgos 1986). The three classic assumptions of the theory state that people are rational actors, individuals are utility-maximizing and firms are profit-maximizing and individuals act independently with access to perfect information (Weintraub 2002). 12 To some degree, it is helpful to think about organic agriculture in the neoclassical economic framework of a global goods market with corresponding supply and demand. Indeed, according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the global market 2

21 for organic goods is increasing rapidly, for example, from a value of $15.2 billion in 1999 to $46.1 billion in 2007 (Willer and Kilcher 2009). The majority of consumer demand for organic goods comes from the Global North, while much of producer supply comes from the Global South (2009). Additionally, many producers are motivated to grow organic foods for economic reasons, particularly to access organic good price premiums and boost profits. A USDA study of U.S. organic price premiums of two vegetables from 1989 to 1992 found annual average prices that were generally double conventional prices, with wide variation on a weekly basis. 13 Therefore, market forces do come into play to account for the spread of organics. However, neoclassical economic theory is not sufficient to explain the spread of organic agriculture in the developing world. The three main assumptions of the theory are problematic to explain diffusion phenomena. For instance, what effect does the (often radical) philosophy of organic agriculture have on so-called rational actors? What explains why a farmer may produce his food organically for his family when production represents significant opportunity costs in terms of his time to pursue an income? How can small farmers make informed choices about entering the organic market when they live without access to information about the market in general? Irrational values and limited information affect how people view and adopt organic agriculture, so a model that takes into account these factors is necessary. This theory has also been critiqued for its tendency to ignore or undervalue ecological concerns, especially when theory is put into practice through development projects like that of the World Bank (Goodland and Ledec 1987). Neoclassical economic theory is insufficient to explain the spread of organic agriculture given Western historical roots of environmental philosophy and activism. 14 Classical Diffusion Theory Another potential theory for framing the spread of organic agriculture is diffusion of innovation, a process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system (Rogers 1995:35). This theory is potentially useful because it traces how different actors and mechanisms pass on information in a society. Diffusion is a dynamic process that is relevant to knowledge production and the movement of organic practices. Classical literature on diffusion of innovation (Ryan & Gross 1943; Beal & Bohlen 1981; Rogers 1995) describes the process by which an innovation, such as a new idea, norm or practice, is spread through a society. Rogers Diffusion of Innovation is viewed by many as the original diffusion theory framework, 15 arguing that four elements are essential to diffusion: innovation, communication, time, and a social system (Rogers 1995). 16 Beal and Bohlen s report (1981) describes five stages in the diffusion of ideas: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption. They also map out potential information sources during these stages, such as how a farmer might learn about a new chemical through mass media during awareness (1981). Finally, Ryan and Gross s agricultural study (1943) of the diffusion of hybrid corn in Iowa traces how hybrid corn diffuses over time despite barriers like the volume of information required to adopt. They point to a strong social factor in information-gathering and adoption: farmers find out about hybrid corn mainly through salesmen but neighbors increasingly persuade them to adopt (1943). These authors work provides an invaluable framework of diffusion theory. Of relevance to organic agriculture is Rogers distinction between two types of innovations: hardware and software (Rogers 1995). While Rogers describes how a keyboard represents the physical tools of hardware, one can extrapolate that organic agriculture represents software, the ideas and values of agricultural practice. The work of these authors is also significant because much of original 3

22 diffusion theory comes out of agricultural studies like that of Ryan and Gross (1943). The fact that diffusion theory originated from studies of agriculture may lend credence to the application of the theory to the spread of organic agriculture. These studies also begin to trace the process of diffusion itself, namely the key actors and mechanisms of diffusion. Despite the ground-breaking statements of original diffusion theorists, their findings tend to serve only as a framework and face three key critiques: globalization ignorance, pro-innovation bias, and software ignorance. An analysis of each of these three classical diffusion critiques follows. Out of each of these critique emerges a potential strand: globalization and transnational diffusion theory, Global South cultural context, and organic agriculture as a software-based innovation, respectively. These strands each address the criticisms of classical diffusion and propose alternative theories for explaining the research question. Globalization & Transnational Diffusion Theory Early diffusion work mainly focuses on innovation spread within a country and tends not to take into account globalization and the diffusion of ideas across national borders, what I call globalization ignorance. In this era, information and ideas rapidly spread around the globe. For example, Peruvian teenagers listen to American music and Europeans use Japanese electronics. The implications of innovation diffusion across national boundaries must be acknowledged. In response to this critique, recent authors have focused their studies on transnational contexts (Acharya 2004; Ban 2010), arguing that the diffusion of innovation is affected by local actor agency. Innovations such as human rights norms (Acharya 2004) and economics ideas (Ban 2010) can diffuse across transnational borders from the global to local sphere through what Acharya calls localization (2004). This is a process by which local agents present global ideas strategically to draw congruence between new global and existing local ideas to facilitate local acceptance, a phenomenon called cultural match (2004). This process occurs through two mechanisms, framing and grafting (2004). For example, when world leaders pushed ASEAN to adopt the global common security norm, ASEAN leaders were more receptive when it was reframed as cooperative security, which was more similar to its own existing norms (2004). Ban adds a critique of the generally simplified, static view of classical diffusion, advocating for a thick definition of diffusion that includes a hybridization of ideational innovations with local ideas in which actors act reflexively and interpret those ideas before adoption (2010:10-11). Who are these actors who do diffusion? Ban argues that more types of actors, both local actors and external advocates, are involved in economic idea diffusion than previously considered (2010). Together, these authors contribute to a new, dynamic way of thinking about diffusion in which networks of actors interact and transform ideas as they pass from one place to another across the globe. This process represents a complex, two-way dialogue that results in the adoption or rejection of an idea that has been transformed. Diffusion is far from a static process, requiring communication and information exchange among many actors. However, Acharya does not consider in-depth cases in which localization might not occur. For instance, what happens to the localization process over time if a norm entrepreneur loses his or her reputation or leaves the site? Under what circumstances might these alternatives occur, and what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for localization and its sustainability in the long run? 4

23 Also, it is unclear to what extent localization and the translation of ideas can be generalized worldwide. Acharya does not fully consider power relations between the Global North and South. How much freedom do Global South actors have to make such choices? For instance, it may be the case in the ASEAN global norm example that there is political pressure from influential countries of the Global North that push local actors to spread these ideas locally. Pressure to adopt practices and innovations may affect how relatively weaker actors act. Perhaps instead of finding a common ground between foreign and local ideas, a local actor must sell foreign ideas masked as those of his or her own culture. This factor is highly relevant when considering the adoption of practices like organic agriculture from the Global North to South. Global South Cultural Context Contemporary authors have also critiqued diffusion theory for its pro-innovation bias, which views innovation in a positive light and prescribes that innovations are adopted by everyone in a social system (Melkote 1991; Rogers 1995). This bias focuses on a top-down approach in which Global North innovators introduce an innovation into a society in the Global South and expect the members of that society to adopt the innovation passively, without acknowledging agency and local values and practices. This mindset stems from the assumption that if an innovation in one community appears in another, the original community is the permanent center of invention and innovation and the adoptive community is a contemporary ancesto[r] that cannot produce innovation (Blaut 1987:31). What emerges from this Western-centered critique is an alternative perspective for viewing innovation in the Global South that focuses on the knowledge base and agency of local actors toward community development (Blaut 1987; Melkote 1991; Stone & Maxwell 2005). Blaut offers a theory of uniformitarianism in which communities have an equal ability to innovate, and innovation occurs to the basic degree of modest modifications of existing traits (Blaut 1987:34-5). Melkote points to the development of a more ethical perspective of development in the 1970 s that takes into account the physical, mental, social, cultural, and spiritual development of an individual, as well as local cultures (Melkote 1991:189). Finally, a focus on the power and agency of local knowledge, especially traditional agricultural knowledge (Vogl et al. 2005; Eernstman & Wals 2009; Tamayo 2009), is necessary to address the Global South cultural context in organic agricultural diffusion. Particular to the organic agriculture context, Goldberger argues that organic agriculture, especially in the Global South, represents a combination of different knowledge domains that span from traditional agricultural practices to modern scientific practices (Goldberger 2008a). For instance, traditional practices did not rely on chemical fertilizers but rather natural fertilizers such as food scraps. This practice is similar to the modern organic practice of creating and applying compost to the garden. While the central motivation of the Green Revolution 17 was the devaluation of traditional farmer knowledge and demonstration of the superiority and authority of modern technoscientific agriculture, Goldberger asserts that the spread of organic agriculture in the Global South involves a revaluing of traditional agricultural practices that share much in common with modern organic practices (2008a:277). Revaluation occurs when key innovation diffusers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scientize traditional and modern organic agriculture by presenting scientific studies that support both practices (2008a). This more recent view of development and innovation is certainly necessary and welcome in a global society in which many developing countries are emerging as new world actors. This 5

24 framework provides a more participatory approach to thinking about how and why innovation occurs and to what degree an innovation may be a combination of new and old or Northern and Southern ideas. Nonetheless, a development framework in which individuals are free from coercion and dependency is idealistic rather than realistic (Melkote 1991:189). Power dynamics continue to exist in Global North-South relations, and ignoring them because of the way the world should be can result in incorrect evaluations of global situations. Organic Agriculture as a Software-Based Innovation Classical diffusion theory is software-ignorant and early diffusion studies focus on and apply the diffusion framework to software innovations when this application may not be appropriate. While hardware innovations tend to confirm the diffusion framework, there is evidence that software-based innovations like organic agriculture do not completely fit into such a framework (Padel 2001). Classical diffusion models, such as the adoption S-curve (see appendix), were developed during the rise of conventional agriculture and the Green Revolution. The innovations of this period were highly hardware-based, including high-productivity seeds and specific farming machinery. Several contemporary authors argue that organic agriculture represents a unique innovation that focuses on more complex ideas and practices than other machinery-based innovations (Padel 2001; Guthman 2004; Lockie 2006). Therefore, one must be wary about applying classical diffusion models, particularly the S-curve, to an agricultural practice that challenges the conventional agriculture paradigm (Padel 2001). At the very least, organic agriculture is likely to spread more slowly than the classical diffusion model would predict. Organic agriculture is a unique innovation in several ways: Lockie points out that defining organic agriculture as an innovation depends on how one defines the term itself (Lockie et. al 2006). Minimalist definitions focus on what organic agriculture is not, holistic definitions focus on the practice s relationship with the environment, and standards focus on narrow, quantifiable aspects, such as years of farming without chemical use (Lockie et. al 2006:3,5-6). Padel adds that organic agricultural practices do not represent the classical innovation because the system was developed by farmers mainly supporting each other, and by other pioneers, and was opposed or ignored by the majority of agricultural scientists (2001:55). While classical diffusion researchers have argued that an innovation spreads if it is easily accessible and supported (Rogers 1995), organic agriculture seems to have spread despite several barriers. Barriers to entry, such as limited access to information through fellow gatekeeper farmers (Padel 2001:48), high individual certification costs (Guthman 2004), and difficulty accessing extension services (Jaffee 2007), also uniquely limit diffusion of organic agriculture. Finally, organic agriculture is unique as an innovation because of its focus on the environment and sustainability (Padel 2001; Halberg et al. 2006). As discussed, neoclassical economics is not sufficient to explain the spread of organic agriculture because it tends to view effects on the environment as an externality, whereas organic agriculture takes environmental effects directly into account. According to Alrøe et al., the organic movement prescribes a functional integrity view of sustainability, in which [h]umans and nature form vulnerable socio-ecological systems that have crucial elements, such as soil which must be regenerated and reproduced over time (Halberg et al. 2006:83). For instance, an organic farmer may consider how his mix of crops will affect local flora and fauna, such as the birds that eat insects in the field. As a result of this intimate relationship, organic agricultural adoption is often motivated by a philosophical, holistic vision, rather than a rational, economic choice. 6

25 These authors contribute to the dialogue about how innovation spreads by applying classical diffusion theory with reservation and analyzing organic agriculture as a unique innovation. It makes intuitive sense that an information-based innovation would spread differently from a hardware-based innovation. However, the classical diffusion model should not be completely discarded, especially given its historical roots in agricultural studies. The work of these authors should be read with a critical eye as well, given that these studies focus on organic agriculture in the Global North in countries such as Australia (Lockie et. al 2006), the U.S. (Guthman 2004) and Europe (Padel 2001). In fact, Goldberger argues that organic agriculture in the Global South can be quite different, for instance, a significant portion of developing country organic farmers are non-certified or pursue alternative group certification (Goldberger 2008a). Transforming Classical Diffusion into a Modern Approach Evidence from the three critiques of classical diffusion of innovation globalization ignorance, pro-innovation bias, and software ignorance shows us that the theory cannot be taken at face value when considering organic agricultural diffusion in the Global South. Instead, such analysis must draw from the basic framework of classical diffusion, enriched with a merger of its three valid critiques to propose an alternative explanation for innovation spread. Superficially it may seem that the spread of organic agriculture can be completely explained by neoclassical economic theory, though price premiums and the supply and demand for organic goods as the international organic market continues to grow. However, there are additional factors at work here that cannot be ignored. As organic agriculture spreads across national borders, power relations come into play as the Global South provides organic primary products to the Global North. In addition, we cannot ignore traditional agricultural knowledge in the Global South and the many similarities between these practices and those of modern organic agriculture. Finally, we must recognize how organic agriculture likely exists as a unique innovation before we even consider how it might move. In this thesis, I will consider how transnational borders and power relations, Global South local knowledge and the uniqueness of organic agricultural innovation may affect the spread of the agricultural practice in Ecuador. These strands will merge to create a more dynamic, participatory process to explain the spread of organic agriculture when compared to classical diffusion. I will identify actors participating in this process, such as government officials, agricultural extension agents, NGO leaders, and small farmers, as well as their relationships to each other. Finally, I will classify methods of diffusion, such as educational programs, in order to trace how organic agricultural practices are spread in Ecuador. Current literature on organic agriculture in the Global South remains limited (Goldberger 2008a). Therefore, my thesis topic makes a contribution to scholarly knowledge on Global South organic agricultural diffusion. Hypotheses The complex spread of organic agriculture requires a complex hypothesis. Several hypotheses must combine to form an overall hypothesis that is both necessary and sufficient. These hypotheses are broadly termed transnational and globalization diffusion, transnational translation, and local adoption hypotheses. I also pose an alternative hypothesis, endogenous adoption, as another explanation for the spread of organic agriculture in Ecuador. 7

26 Transnational/Globalization Diffusion Hypothesis The first part of the hypothesis states that organic agriculture adoption results from neoclassical economic and transnational migration mechanisms. More specifically, as trade liberalization increases between Ecuador and the Global North, demand for organic products increases, resulting in increased organic agriculture. Lampkin points out that organic agriculture is unique to other forms of sustainable agriculture because it has an increasing role in the economic market, due to the price premium of niche organic products (Padel 2001). Organic production is therefore affected by market forces as farmers adopt organic practices to capture price premiums. International trade between Ecuador and countries of the Global North 18 also plays an important part in the supply and demand of agricultural products. The European Union (EU) is one of Ecuador s largest trading partners, representing about 14% of exports per year from 2003 to 2007; most of these exports are agricultural goods. 19 As a result, Ecuador is currently negotiating a trade agreement with the EU to improve terms of trade between the two countries. 20 Although negotiations between the U.S. and Ecuador in favor of a free trade agreement have been suspended indefinitely as of 2008, 21 Ecuador can export goods to the U.S. duty-free under the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA). 22 In fact, the United States is Ecuador s main trading partner. According to the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. represents one of the major markets of Ecuador, at 45% of the country s export market in One of the major components of Ecuador s GDP is the agricultural sector (6.3% of GDP in 2008), which consists of domestic consumption as well as the following export products: bananas, shrimp, flowers, and other agricultural primary products. 24 It is likely that organic products factor into these exports. Ecuador is also inextricably connected to the U.S. because of its recent decision to convert its currency to the U.S. dollar. As a result of economic crisis and recession in 1999, Ecuador adopted the dollar in 2000, which has allowed the country to stabilize its economy and experience relative growth through Therefore, although there is currently no free trade agreement mandated between the U.S. and Ecuador, evidence suggests strong trade relations between the two countries and likely trade of organic products. Transnational Translation Hypothesis While the globalization condition is necessary for explaining organic agriculture diffusion, it is not sufficient. The second part of the hypothesis consists of the condition of cultural fit between international and local actors: If there are legitimate and capable actors who promote organic agriculture through cultural fit, 26 local farmers will adopt organic agricultural practices. International actors, such as U.S. and international NGOs, are increasing their presence in Ecuador and influencing environmental practices within the country. The result is an increase in organic agriculture. Meyer tracks the development of environmental NGOs within Ecuador and has indeed seen an increase in these organizations, with about 24 environmental NGOs present in the country as of 1993 (1993). These organizations have been in action since the 1980 s to promote education and conservation of the Ecuadorian environment (1993). While many of these organizations are domestic NGOs with Ecuadorian members, they are funded by international entities, such as USAID and the Inter-American Foundation (1993). As Meyer explains, Ecuador has an advantage for attracting donors for its environmental NGOs, namely that it is more politically stable than its Amazonian neighbors (1993). As environmental conservation issues become an 8

27 increasing reality, it is likely that more sustainable solutions like organic agriculture will be promoted by NGOs and adopted by local residents. In addition, local actors who are legitimate and capable are increasing their message of local promotion of organic agriculture, resulting in the adoption of organic agriculture among Ecuadorian farmers. As stated by Acharya, a condition necessary for localization is the availability of credible local actors with sufficient discursive influence to match or outperform outside norm entrepreneurs operating at the global level (2004:248). The local community must view these actors as model citizens of social rules and norms and agents of their own free will in order to influence transnational norm acceptance within the framework of existing local norms (Acharya 2004). This thesis will attempt to identify these local actors and their respective roles. Local Network Hypothesis The final hypothesis looks at the local level to explain how organic agriculture is adopted and spread within a local community. At the community level, if there are close-knit social networks and limited barriers to entry, local farmers will adopt organic agricultural practices. One aspect of classical diffusion theory that is likely to have an influence on the spread of innovation is the presence of close-knit social networks. People depending on each other, especially in small communities, affect each others daily activities. In the presence of an innovation, individuals in these networks rely on the communicated experience of their peers to form subject evaluations (Rogers 1995:330-31). They are likely to adopt a practice en masse if one member serves as a catalyst and he or she has social status. This catalyst characteristic also connects to the hypothesis about the presence of capable and legitimate actors in the community. This social phenomenon is supported by diffusion studies of Iowan farmers considering hybrid corn (Ryan and Gross 1943) and Korean villages considering contraceptives (Rogers 1995). Farmers in general face many barriers to entry, including access to natural resources and access to markets to sell their crops. As discussed above, however, there are several barriers to entry unique to organic agriculture that small farmers must face, including limited access to information, high organic certification costs, and difficulty accessing extension services (Padel 2001; Guthman 2004; Jaffee 2007). If these barriers are in place and farmers cannot overcome them, it is not likely that they will be capable of adopting or continuing to practice organic agriculture. However, if limited barriers to entry exist in a community, then more farmers are likely to access and adopt organic practices. As the bulk of the fieldwork for this thesis occurs in a small community in Ecuador, it will be important to see how these factors affect the diffusion process. It may be the case that barriers unique to Ecuador are also present for farmers. Together, international actors and local actors must engage in a process of cultural fit as proposed by Acharya to localize the transnational norm of organic practice into the framework of existing agricultural practices in Ecuador. In tandem, the neoclassical economics condition, along with the transnational translation condition and local network condition, and may be necessary and sufficient to explain the increased adoption of organic practices in Ecuador. Alternative Hypothesis: Endogenous Adoption An alternative hypothesis to explain organic agriculture diffusion focuses on the domestic sphere. It states that Ecuadorian agriculture is not sufficiently affected by outside conditions as stated above. Instead, Ecuadorian organic agriculture has mirrored the U.S. organic movement. Specifically, as a local organic philosophy and incentives for organic products increase, organic 9

28 practices will diffuse through local farmers. This hypothesis suggests a social movement, with an environmental identity and recognition of traditional agriculture, as the main mechanism for the diffusion of organic agriculture. In the case of Ecuador, I would expect to find a network of organic practices similar to that of the U.S. within the framework of local agricultural practices. In terms of the U.S. organic movement, Padel describes how organic farming was initiated around the 1960 s by a limited number of small farmers aided by a few innovators that spread at first through informal networks (2001:42). This network was based on a philosophy and set of values that emphasized a countercultural reaction to the rise of industrial agriculture in America. As Guthman explains, these early entrants set the tone for organic farming by developing a set of idioms around organic food provision that were initially impenetrable by mainstream America, perhaps by design (2004:23). As a result, it was initially difficult for potential adopters such as conventional farmers to tap into the information-based innovation of organic agriculture, and therefore these ideas remained within small communities. In addition, Castells describes the rise of an international environmental movement that includes the separate identities of different social groups but shares the overarching vision of creating an environmentally responsible socio-economic system for the world (2004:169). This shift in thinking made the innovation more accessible to the general public, and therefore organic agriculture could begin to diffuse through more actors. In addition to individual farmers, emerging institutions such as organic associations and certifiers became critical in diffusing the techniques and meanings of organic farming, and as the place where regulations for organic production first evolved (Guthman 2004:17). Organic agriculture consequently took on a more institutionalized framework, with regulations for adoption and price premiums, which allowed production to expand as larger-scale conventional farmers became involved. Does this kind of movement exist in Ecuador? What is the role of traditional agriculture in this movement? Tamayo argues that indigenous Ecuadorian farmers already had an ecological system similar to organic agriculture in place starting as far back as 100 B.C., including el sistema de micro verticalidad/a system of micro-verticality that supported a variety of crops (2009:2). It was not until the 1940 s when foreign institutions promoted the pesticide use and monoculture of conventional agriculture that these ecological practices were largely abandoned (Tamayo 2009). Due to health and environmental effects of this chemical adoption, an organic agriculture movement arose in the 1960 s and was subsequently redefined to include traditional practices with the technological advances of the present (Tamayo 2009). It appears that Ecuador has started a movement similar to that of the U.S. movement. The overall influence of previous traditional values and the effects of scaling-up of this agricultural movement are yet to be seen. Case selection This thesis focuses on a disciplined interpretive case study of a small community in Perucho, Ecuador. 27 Ecuador provides an intriguing setting to trace the advent of organic practices in the Global South, as the country is known as one of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world. 28 Ecuador is also the only country to adopt the right of nature in its constitution, with provisions to protect its natural resources with rights as it does its citizens. 29 Additionally, agriculture represents a significant economic activity in Ecuador: farmers grow traditional crops such as corn, potatoes and beans for subsistence and tropical crops such as bananas, cacao and coffee for export. 30 Because Ecuador has such strong ties to the U.S. and the E.U. through trade, the case provides a direct link between the Global North and the Global South. 10

29 Organic agriculture itself has recently begun to emerge in Ecuador as a whole (Willer and Kilcher 2009). By 2007, certified organic land has increased to 62,262 hectares and land in transition to organic agriculture covers 3,316 hectares. 31 Combined, these two types of land have increased from 17% to 49% per year since 2001, clearly, an upward growth trend. 32 However, compared to larger Latin American countries like Argentina, Ecuador has fewer actors involved in organic agriculture. As a result, it is likely to be easier to trace the spread of this practice. I chose Perucho as a case of the final recipient of organic agricultural practices because this community is agriculturally-based and members of this community have recently begun the process of transitioning to organic agriculture through weekly classes taught collaboratively between the NGO PROBIO and the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGAP). Therefore, there is clearly a mechanism of diffusion of organic practices to this community, although there is likely to be additional factors in this process. Michael Ayala, the main teacher, is a member of the community and the current president of PROBIO, the oldest organic agriculture NGO in Ecuador. In addition, Perucho is close to the capital city, Quito, such that farmers have access to a larger, and potentially international, market. This specific case also represents a unique situation to document the early state of diffusion, namely innovation and early adoption, as outlined by Rogers. I chose to study the early stage of diffusion for several reasons. First of all, this stage allows me to trace the primary mechanisms that initiated diffusion of practices, whether they are international or local factors. This stage also allows me to interview early adopters and better understand motivations behind adoption. Thirdly, diffusion represents a volatile process that is subject to change or termination at any point, and therefore, as Padel states: It is not possible to theoretically determine how many farmers may convert to organic farming in the future (2001:43). Because I cannot divine the future, I settle for studying a stage in the process of diffusion already underway in Perucho. Why care? Organic agriculture represents a sustainable solution and an alternative to the industrial agriculture system that dominates our world today. This industrial system is marked by characteristics of environmental degradation and social damage that are likely not sustainable given the Earth s current supply of natural resources. As Padel states, Sustainable agriculture is on everybody s agenda and a major priority of policy makers in developed countries and organic farming has received more public recognition in this context (2001:53). Therefore, this is an environmental, social, political, and economic issue that we cannot ignore. While there is currently limited funding for research into the processes and benefits of alternative agricultural systems like organic farming, more research is necessary moving forward. Research into the power dynamic between the Global North and South is also important as people consider what development and international relations mean. Studying organic agriculture provides a snapshot into these relationships. While the Global North has numerous resources and the power of the media to make sustainable agriculture a priority in its political agenda, the Global South has fewer resources and less global influence to address these issues and to brainstorm potential solutions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms that affect the diffusion of organic agriculture practices in countries of the Global South, such as Ecuador, within the context of the international sphere, in order to inform our future decisions as a globe about the next steps toward environmental preservation and other global issues. 11

30 More specifically, this study is important because limited research and literature on organic agriculture in the Global South exists today, despite an upward trend in the growth of organic practices in developing countries. We do not have a clear understanding of the process and mechanisms of organic agriculture diffusion and adoption in the developing world. Can the theoretical model of diffusion of organic agriculture be applied to different countries of the world, across borders, in a manner that is generalizable? There may be more complex factors affecting the process of diffusion of innovation that should be considered in future studies. Limitations of the Project Because of the fluidity of the process of diffusion, it may be difficult to determine mechanisms and motivations that are stable across time. As Padel mentions, a shift in motives, farm and social characteristics among those converting to organic farming is a typical feature of any diffusion process (2001:57). This thesis gathers data from a specific case study in Ecuador during a select time period, tracing the process of diffusion at the earliest stage. That is, while I will study farmers undergoing early stages of diffusion, I cannot generalize these findings to later adopters of organic agriculture because the conditions and incentives under which these individuals live are different from earlier adopters. Diffusion theory is a complex model that includes a number of necessary and sufficient conditions for success that are not static. In addition, because this case study represents a community with a small sample of the Ecuadorian population, I must be careful not to generalize my findings about the process of organic agriculture diffusion to all of Ecuador and the Global South. While there may be some themes and conclusions I can draw about the process overall, my study is limited to the population with which I will focus. This project also focuses mostly at the micro-level, and therefore, I must be careful in how I describe how organic agriculture spreads beyond the boundaries of this community. While some of my data speak to the work of outside groups, such as NGOs, these data are limited. I cannot trace the complete process from the Global North to the Global South as my overall research question proposes. A future project could continue to identify actors, relationships, and diffusion mechanisms and more fully answer this question. The model of diffusion of organic agriculture in the U.S. may exist in Ecuador to some extent; however the U.S. movement cannot be directly applied to Ecuador because these processes are occurring under different starting conditions in each country. Because traditional agriculture has played such an integral role in Ecuadorian culture and society, its presence affects organic agriculture diffusion, resulting in a potential hybrid between the two practices. It is likely impossible to disentangle the two practices from each other, and this thesis will not attempt to do so. Nonetheless, my thesis must take into account the unique nature of Ecuadorian society and history within the diffusion framework. Finally, because current research and literature on organic agriculture in the developing world is limited, it is difficult to obtain evidence to support my claims about organic agriculture in Ecuador. While I have attempted to locate local primary and secondary resources in Ecuador to support my findings, my findings remain limited. Methodology and Data I collected the bulk of my data for this thesis during ten weeks of summer fieldwork in Ecuador from May to August I based my work in Perucho, Ecuador, a community of about 600 people just North of Quito, where I volunteered on a small organic farm as part of the Perucho Organic Agriculture Experience (POAE) program. This program hosts volunteers from around the world who want to learn about organic agriculture through a hands-on approach. I also aided 12

31 Michael Ayala, owner of the program and current president of organic agriculture NGO PROBIO, in the implementation of classes on organic agriculture for interested community members. This class was the main focus of my summer research as the most direct mechanism of innovation diffusion (organic agricultural practices spreading through a social network). Weekly classes covered topics in organic agriculture through both theory (lecture) and practice (hands-on training at host fields owned by class students). I attended the classes offered during my stay. From these classes, I built a sample of fourteen study participants. 34 I visited each of these participants, conducting a short survey, a semi-structured interview, and in many cases, a walk through the participant s farm. I developed the survey to provide basic background (main work, land cultivated, crops cultivated, etc.), where farmers receive information (to trace a diffusion process), organic agricultural practices valued and adopted, and general agricultural values (adapted from Guthman 2004). I developed questions about organic practices from Michael Ayala s suggestions to reflect local agricultural practices. 35 The interview was based on a general set of questions to provide a narrative of this survey. When I visited the participant s farm, I asked questions about the type and quantity of crops produced and practices like composting and irrigation. I also documented the visit with photographs of the plot, crops, and animals. These qualitative methods are similar to those in Goldberger s case study of the diffusion of noncertified organic agriculture in Kenya (2008b). I also engaged in participant observation, using eight weeks of direct volunteer work to inform my understanding of organic agriculture itself. At the conclusion of my stay in Perucho, I gave a presentation to the class attendees covering the initial findings of my research and opening up the class for discussion. 36 For instance, the presentation explained the organic agricultural practices that class participants find valuable, as well as those practices that are actually adopted by such participants. Extension workers of the Ministry of Agriculture also attended and discussed these issues with class members. In addition to my work in Perucho, I also conducted interviews with representatives of sustainable and organic agriculture NGOs and experts in the field in Ecuador. I conducted additional interviews with such higher actors during a second visit to Ecuador in January These interviews gave me a broader picture of the processes of diffusion of organic agriculture in Ecuador. I supplemented this work with visits to NGO offices, university libraries, and the satellite agricultural campus of the Central University of Quito to collect secondary data on organic agriculture in Ecuador. Finally, I participated in two farmer s markets held in a city park in Quito that sells organic products. Perucho Organic Farm was a vendor at the market with its own table of produce and artistic wares, and I had the chance to sell organic products there. In the following empirical chapters, I provide evidence for my claims by triangulating my three sources of data: interviews with small farmers and experts like NGO representatives, participant observation, and secondary data (such as documents, pamphlets, etc.). Information collected from each of these elements cross-checked with the other elements for consistency. Thesis Structure My thesis consists of the following structure: Chapter One introduces my research questions, literature review, hypothesis, case selection, limitations, methodology and main findings. It builds a case for why this thesis topic is important and what role it can play to fill in gaps in current literature. The chapter explains how one can build off of neoclassical economic and classical diffusion theory to better understand the spread of organic agriculture in Ecuador. 13

32 Chapter Two provides a background on Ecuador and organic agriculture within the Global North and Ecuador. The historical context of Ecuador is important for understanding the current process of organic agricultural spread within the country, especially its historical practice of traditional agriculture. The modern organic agriculture model, which has its origins in the Global North, will also be considered in relation to Ecuadorian traditional agriculture. Chapter Three explores actors and their strategies for bringing the organic model into Ecuador. It will discuss the roles and relationships between foreign and domestic actors and the strategies used to bring the model into the country. This level of analysis will focus on higher actors, including government officials and representatives of international and domestic NGOs. Chapter Four traces the process of selling and accepting the organic model. Local actors who work at connectors between the international and the domestic sphere or the national and the local sphere work to educate local farmers and convince them of the value of organic agriculture. The strategies used in the cultural fit process are discussed, along with an analysis of the motivations and values that affect whether local farmers accept the organic agriculture model. Chapter Five investigates adoption of the organic model and barriers to entry. While experts may work to spread ideas about organic agriculture and local farmers may want to adopt organic agriculture, barriers to entry may prevent adoption for occurring. These barriers, their implications, and potential solutions to overcome these barriers will be analyzed and discussed. Chapter Six presents conclusions on the overall process of spreading organic agriculture in Ecuador based on the hypotheses proposed in Chapter One. It suggests potential policy recommendations for Ecuador s government as it considers this alternative agricultural model. The chapter ends with a discussion of potential directions for future research on these questions and in the field in general. Finally, an Appendix including my interview questions, transcripts, IRB approval, photographs, and additional resources. 14

33 CHAPTER 2. Historical Background of Organic Agriculture and Ecuador "To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves" - Mahatma Gandhi Principles of Organic Agriculture Organic agriculture is a set of agricultural philosophies and practices. Organic agriculture has inspired a movement, a market, regulations, and a way of life. While we have discussed the contention surrounding its many definitions, this is what organic agriculture is at its core. The main philosophy of organic agriculture promotes agricultural practices that use natural processes and inputs to promote agricultural productivity (Scialabba and Hattam 2002). Organic philosophy also condones the use of external and artificial inputs, such as chemical fertilizers. Organic agriculture shares many principles with biodynamic agriculture and permaculture. Biodynamic agriculture, developed by Rudolph Steiner in 1924, promotes a holistic and spiritual view of nature and farms, in which the farm is a dynamic, growing entity using as few external inputs as possible to produce food (2002:3). Permaculture, advanced by Bill Mollison in the late 1970 s, is a landscape and social design system that focuses on conserving or creating energy through farm activities, restoring the health of degraded land, and practicing selfsufficiency at the local level (2002:4). Many organic farmers incorporate these innovative perspectives and techniques into their own agricultural practices. Examples of organic practices include composting, poly-culture (growing many crops in one plot), and producing pesticides from natural ingredients. The practices utilized by organic farmers can vary from person to person, as long as their overall purpose is to conserve natural resources, to promote biodiversity, and to protect the environment through sustainable food production (2002). While many organic farmers practice organic agriculture according to specific standards to access the organic market, some farmers, particularly those in the Global South, do not practice according to regulations and thus tend to have more flexibility in how they farm (2002). Organic farmers can therefore be divided into certified and non-certified categories of production. Producers who are non-certified may be: (1) pursuing the long process of certification, (2) following alternative certification schemes, 37 (3) practicing organic agriculture for selfconsumption only, or (4) practicing organic agriculture by default because they cannot pay for expensive external inputs. 38 See the following section for a discussion of organic certification. It is also important to consider that many farmers practice traditional agriculture, which has been adapted to local environmental and cultural conditions and passed down through generations (2002:4). Because these traditional systems began before the creation and use of external inputs, 15

34 many of their practices naturally fit into the modern organic agricultural model. The main difference between these two agricultural systems is that traditional agriculture is based on historical practices that are promoted because they have been socially tested to function in a region, whereas organic agriculture as it is practiced today is a modern agricultural system that incorporates natural practices with scientific knowledge and experiments (Goldberger 2008a). Origins of Organic Agriculture Modern organic agriculture as we know it today has its origins in the Global North, beginning in Europe. Born in England, Sir Albert Howard is viewed by many to be the founder of the modern organic movement (Heckman 2006; Conford 2001; Steiner 1958; Gieryn 1999). Howard developed many of his ideas about organic agriculture while in India in the early 1900 s working for agricultural research centers. Drawing from his experiences, he wrote several seminal books that paved the way for the organic movement, including An Agricultural Testament (1943), Soil and Health (1945), and The War in the Soil (1946). One of his primary contributions to the organic model is The Law of Return, which states that farmers should recycle all organic waste, including human waste, back to the land to promote soil fertility (Heckman 2006). This recycling process was part of his Indore composting, a precise method for creating compost from both plant and human matter (2006). Howard believed that soil health was intimately connected to the health of crops, animals, and people through a living bridge (2006:144). While Howard advocated for an agricultural system that promoted soil fertility, most agricultural scientists and producers at the time simplified soil nutrients to three main elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and promoted chemical fertilizer use to improve crop yield. In order to substantiate the value of this new agricultural model, experiments comparing organic with conventional farming were necessary. Lady Eve Balfour is recognized for conducting the first ecologically designed agricultural research study on a full farm scale, which took place between 1939 and 1969 (Heckman 2006). 39 The study started on her farm and then in 1947 the Soil Association, an organization promoting organic agriculture worldwide, took over the project. She published the results in her book The Living Soil and the Haughley Experiment (1943). The Haughley experiment revealed that the minerals available to plants in the soil fluctuate seasonally to meet the plants demand, and these fluctuations were greatest for the plot grown organically. 40 While the organic plot grew crops without fertilizers, the nutrient level of the soil remained significantly high. 41 These results suggest that while the researchers did not find many significant differences between the organic and non-organic plots, soil health in the organic plot appeared to be higher than that in the non-organic plot. This seminal study was the first of many experiments that would attempt to substantiate organic agriculture s value. Although Sir Albert Howard helped to spread many of the original ideas about organic agriculture, he was not the first person to connect the term organic with farming. While Howard spoke about Nature s farming, Walter Northbourne is credited with the first use of the term organic farming (Heckman 2006). In his book Look to the Land (1940), Northbourne described the farm as an organic whole, a holistic space encompassing the physical space as well as its environment (2006:146). As Heckman describes, the organic farmer functions in concert with the symbiotic unit by being in daily contact with and having a feeling for the whole farm organism (2006:146). This view of farming and agriculture was innovative for its time. More and more farmers were adopting conventional practices that increasingly reduced land to 16

35 something to be manipulated by scientific techniques and exploited for its resources. Instead, Northbourne and others returned to a traditional view of land that demanded farmers respect. From its initial stirrings in Europe, organic agriculture moved to the U.S. through several actors, including Jerome Rodale. Rodale was so inspired by Howard s ideas and writings that he decided to try them out organic techniques for himself and started a farm in Allentown, PA (2006). Rodale was a key figure in the process of popularizing and disseminating information about organic agriculture in the U.S. through a magazine he started in 1942 called Organic Farming and Gardening and several books, such as Pay Dirt (1945) and The Organic Front (1948) (2006). Howard calls this period from 1940 to 1978 the era of polarization because those working in fields related to agriculture started to divide into organic followers and organic skeptics (2006:146). While some became interested in the ideas of these early organic pioneers, the majority of agricultural businessmen believed in the miracles of chemistry and new scientific innovations such as those of the Green Revolution (see below) (2006:147). Nonetheless, organic agriculture slowly gained recognition in the U.S., as evidenced by an increasing readership of Rodale s Organic Gardening magazine from 260,000 in 1960 to 1,300,000 twenty years later (2006). Padel describes how U.S. organic farming was initiated by a limited number of small farmers aided by a few innovators, and it spread at first through informal networks (2001:42). This network was based on a philosophy and set of values that emphasized a countercultural reaction to the rise of industrial agriculture in America. The organic paradigm consisted of a vision of small-scale farmers that criticized conventional agricultural production and its use of pesticides (Guthman 2004). Nonetheless, the movement was slow to popularize, as Guthman explains: these early entrants set the tone for organic farming by developing a set of idioms that were initially impenetrable by mainstream America, perhaps by design (2004:23). As a result, it was initially difficult for potential adopters such as conventional farmers to tap into the information-based innovation of organic agriculture. Therefore these ideas remained within small communities at the outset. Its advent solidified into a movement and practice in the United States during the rise of the U.S. environmental movement in the 1960 s. The rhetoric of authors such as Rachel Carson exposed the public to connections between agricultural practices and environmental issues. In her book Silent Spring (1962), Carson harshly criticized the use of pesticides in food production for both its negative health and environmental effects, consequences that had not been publicly explored previously beyond a superficial level. In the 1980 s, when the major agricultural system of the U.S. changed, organic agriculture broke out into a more mainstream movement. Specifically, the government removed price supports and trade barriers and consumers became conscious of the environmental impact and safety of their food (Guthman 2004). With these concerns in mind, increased demand for high-value foods provided an opportunity for agricultural producers to take advantage of organic production. In this sense, organic agriculture took on more meaning than a counterculture philosophy to include ideas about international trade and food security and safety. The development of organic agriculture in Europe has followed a path similar to that in the U.S. Global Spread and the Rise of Regulation In the last two decades, organic agriculture had spread from small, innovative communities to a more established system of agriculture. By established, I mean that organic agriculture has become an alternative way to produce food that is growing rapidly thanks to the work of 17

36 Figure 2.1 Organic Logos in the European Union (old and new) and the United States 42 organizations like NGOs. Only recently have governments and larger institutions become involved in organic agricultural production, creating regulations and certification schemes. Their participation has been prompted by the increase in organic agricultural production and the need to standardize the organic process and its products for an increasingly global organic market. IFOAM reports that as of 2009, there are 32.2 million hectares of land worldwide that are farmed organically by over 1.2 million organic producers (Willer and Kilcher 2009). The world organic market represents over $5 billion USD annually. Most of the demand for organic products exists in the Global North, with North America and Europe representing 97 percent of revenues (2009). Due to their high demand, these regions have established certification systems and institutions to ensure the quality of their organic products. According to The Organic Certification Directory 2008, the EU has 179 organic certification bodies, including 32 non-eu bodies serving other countries (2009). The U.S. has 124 organic certification bodies, including 68 that operate outside the U.S. (2009). In 1991, the EU adopted the organic EU Regulation 2092/91 with rules about production, labeling and inspection o plant products (Willer and Kilcher 2009). These rules have most recently been revised and updated in the Regulation on Organic Production EU Regulation (EC) 834/2007 in 2009 (2009). In the U.S., the Organic Foods Protection Act of 1990 established the legal requirement for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create national organic standards. As a consequence, the USDA created National Organic Standards in 2002 (2009). The process of organic certification itself requires a number of steps (Kuepper 2002). 43 After deciding to become an organic grower, a producer must begin a three year transition process without pesticide and fertilizers (2002). The first step to certification is to identify an appropriate certification agency that is accredited by the National Organic Program (2002). Next producers must submit an application to the chosen certifier, which includes the certifier s organic standards, a farm plan questionnaire and an application fee (2002). In the third step the organic certifier completes a review of the application (2002). The fourth step is an inspection of the applying farm by an organic inspector to ensure that the producer in question is complying with the organic standards, resulting in a report submitted back to the certifier (2002). The final step in the process is the certifier s final review of the application and the inspection report. If the certifier approves the producer, the producer can start labeling food products as organic (2002). To communicate to consumers that products are organic, certified producers in the U.S. and EU can use organic logos and labels when selling their products (see Figure 2.1 above). Rules about logo and label use differ. In the U.S., the USDA created a national standard for the organic logo through the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990 that included rules about productions and environmental protection (Dimitri and Oberholtzer 2009). The National Organic Standards have 18

37 set four categories for labeling organic products based on the composition of the product: 100% organic, organic, made with organic, and less than 70% organic ingredients (McEvoy 2003). The use of the organic logo and labels has not been uniform throughout the EU because the logo itself was voluntary in 2000, and across countries some labels are public while other labels are held by private certifiers (Dimitri and Oberholtzer 2009). Because few certified producers used the voluntary logo initially, in 2005, the EU required producers to either use the EU logo or state EU-organic on products that were 95% or more certified-organic (2009). While modern organic agriculture originated in the Global North, and countries of the U.S. and EU represent significant numbers of both organic producers and consumers, organic agriculture is increasingly popular in the Global South as well (Willer and Kilcher 2009). As the market for organic goods becomes global, more producers in the Global South are supplying Global North demand. As mentioned, the development of organic agriculture in the Global North is fairly well documented, but not as much is known about that in the Global South (Goldberger 2008a). One clear difference between the Global North and South is a much longer history of Global South traditional agriculture. What is this history? What is the relationship between traditional and modern organic agriculture? The next section explores these questions for the case, Ecuador. Agricultural History of Ecuador Ecuador has a long and rich agricultural history. Indeed, the Andes are known as one of the cunas/cradles of world agriculture, with evidence of crops dating back to 8500 BC (Benzing 2001:22). 44 Given the wealth of biodiversity in its four distinct zones the Sierra, the Amazon rainforest, the coast, and the Galapagos Islands it is no surprise that agriculture has thrived and that it remains integral to Ecuador s economy and the livelihoods of its people. Nonetheless, the nature of its agricultural practices has changed significantly over time due in part to changes in power, science, and the environment. From traditional to conventional to organic and agroecological, Ecuador s agricultural history is dynamic and unique to the region. Because of its distinct zones, agricultural practices and crops vary significantly within Ecuador. While this chapter explores agriculture throughout the country, it focuses particularly on agriculture in the Andes, that is, the Sierra region of Ecuador where my fieldwork took place. Traditional Agriculture In this thesis, traditional agriculture refers to the agricultural practices used by small farmers that have been passed down through generations since before the arrival of Spaniards and other foreigners. According to Temístocles Hernández M., agriculture practiced by Andean farmers in the pre-columbian era followed a holistic philosophy that viewed Nature as a being, the Pachamama, as referenced in the thesis title (2001). This philosophy also focused on achieving a natural equilibrium through an intimate connection among people and the earth (2001). Traditional agriculture called for the conservation and careful use of natural resources by producing crops naturally, without chemical inputs. These practices were based on three fundamental principles: coexistence, recycling, and self-sufficiency (2001:21). A sense of both consciousness and conscientiousness was also essential to conocer y descifrar el paisaje/know and decipher the landscape to figure out which practices to use for a successful, healthy harvest (2001:17). These practices included careful soil maintenance with terraces and natural fertilizers, flood irrigation, rotating and mixing cultivation, and pest control with natural repellents (2001). 19

38 The arrival of Spaniards in Ecuador in the 1400 s changed the agricultural scene dramatically. After the fall of the Incan empire, it was relatively easy for the Spanish to conquer and assume control of a large majority of Ecuadorian land, especially the most fertile plots (Rhoades 2006). They also introduced the encomienda system of production, in which able-bodied natives were expected to work these newly-acquired lands (2006). Compared to the natural, holistic system of agriculture practiced by Ecuadorian ancestors, the Spanish called for agriculture that supported their new haciendas, replacing traditional crops and practices with those from the Old World such as sheep livestock (2006:68). Theirs was a different perspective of nature: strictly in terms of resources that they could capitalize on and possess they included indigenous habitants as part of the land (2006:69). 45 Land was simply a commodity. When hacienda owners faced a lack of labor power, they instituted the huasipungo system in which indigenous people were forced to work the land and in many cases pay tributes (2006). As such, entire villages of indigenous peoples had to move to the highlands to escape the control of these new masters. While some small farmers in more rural reaches of Ecuador were able to maintain traditional practices, most producers were forced to adopt modern agriculture from their conquerors that was more intensive, less diversified, and integrated work animals like oxen (2006). Even when Ecuador gained independence in 1822, huasipungos were not freed and continued to be exploited for labor (2006). Rise of Conventional Agriculture and the Green Revolution Agricultural practices transformed again with the rise of so called conventional agriculture in the twentieth century. This type of agriculture emphasizes practices based on efficiency and scientific development to increase production. Conventional agriculture tends to use monoculture, large machinery, and external inputs like chemical pesticides. According to the International Development Research Centre, pesticides were introduced in Ecuador in the 1940 s and rose in popularity as agricultural production increased and economic growth resulted. 46 Scientists and institutions in the Global North promoted this model of agriculture in an attempt to boost crop yields in developing countries during a period from 1960 to 2000 known as the Green Revolution (Juang 2008). 47 Green Revolution technology coupled research on strains of corn, wheat and rice bred in hybrid form or with more resilient characteristics with fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation techniques (Juang 2008). This packet of innovations was thought to help reduce rampant hunger in regions such as India, Africa and South America to feed the world. Particular to Latin American, the Rockefeller Foundation funded Carl Sauer in the early 1940 s to design an agricultural research program in Mexico (Collinson 1997). Evidently, while Sauer advocated for the incorporation of traditional, indigenous agricultural practices, the Rockefeller Foundation set its sights on the pursuit of high yield, high input technologies (1997:51). As a result, the International Center for Wheat and Maize Improvement was established in Mexico in 1966 to research and promote Green Revolution innovations (Juang 2008). Development institutions and NGOs spread these practices throughout the region by making modified seeds, fertilizers, and extension officers available to farmers of Latin America. In Ecuador, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Ministry of Agriculture, and Misión Andina (Andean Mission) were among the principal actors in this process (Rhodes 2006). 20

39 Today, results of the Green Revolution campaign remain mixed. Juang reports that between 1961 and 2000 yield per acre of staple grains increased by 2.4 percent in Latin America (2008:530). It is likely that this increased yield helped to feed a growing population, as proposed. However, while crops yields increased significantly at first, since 1980, results have tended to plateau. Land has reached maximum productivity in many areas, with growing environmental consequences such as soil degradation and loss of water resources (2008). In addition, pests and disease resistant to chemical inputs have risen such as the Late Potato Blight that arose in Ecuador in 1997 and has since affected other parts of Latin America (2008). Finally, the innovations of the Green Revolution have tended to benefit larger farmers, the ones who could afford to pay for fertilizers, pesticides, and technical advice, rather than small subsistence farmers (Schoch 2001). 48 Effects of the Green Revolution have tended to be negative on small communities of farmers, as Flores, an indigenous man from Cotacachi, Ecuador explains: Now I have used chemicals since I was young, according to how foreign people came to indicate here we sometimes do not have seeds and they came to distribute them when we fumigate many times there is a risk of contaminating the fruit, which is worthless Before we had about 15 varieties of native potatoes, but now all of them have been lost (Rhoades 2006:74-5). 49 There is clearly a power dynamic at play here, as small Ecuadorian farmers are at the mercy of agricultural experts with knowledge and seeds. In addition to losing valuable biodiversity, the Green Revolution has also caused farmers to abandon the majority of their traditional practices. Not only were they motivated by larger yields and a potentially higher income, it has been documented that these farmers could no longer grow their traditional crops successfully because Green Revolution seeds and fertilizers had depleted the soil of nutrients (Vander Molen 2009). Only modified seeds could survive in the new growing environment. The implications of these lost species and local knowledge are myriad and continue to affect agriculture in Ecuador. Agrarian Reform: 1964 and 1973 In the 1950 s, 1.2 percent of large land owners controlled 64 percent of Ecuadorian agrarian land, while 73.1 percent of small landowners controlled only 7.2 percent of land (Sánchez-Parga 2010:64). To address the unequal control of land among a few, the Ecuadorian government instituted new laws between 1964 and 1973 known as la reforma agrarian nacional (National Agrarian Reform). This process was also part of a larger social movement of the indigenous fighting for land (Sánchez-Parga 2010). The Law of 1964 stated that production units should be limited in size to 880 hectares (1000 hectares of páramo) in the Sierra and that forms of work such as peasant labor should be abolished (Farrell and Ross 1983). The Law of 1973 was similar to that of 1964, except that it did not set strict limits to parcel size and focused more on the development of an industrial agricultural sector with credit and enterprise formation (1983). In effect, these laws attempted to break up large haciendas and create more opportunities for small producers to acquire land and commercialize their products. Although on paper the law drastically changed the nature of agriculture, these changes were difficult to achieve in reality. Sánchez-Parga (2010) report that the State redistributed a total of 498,162 hectares during the Agrarian Reform era from (out of Ecuador s 26,079,600 hectares of total land, of which 12,355,831 available for agriculture). 50 For example, in Cotacachi, many farmers did not even know of the laws existence, did not receive land, or if they did receive land from hacienda owners, these plots were small and of poor quality (Rhoades 2006). In addition, Farrell and Ross argue that the government had a different agenda: to mollify social movements and to stimulate 21

40 agricultural productivity by removing old practices and introducing new technologies (1983). While these laws did not change much physically, Sánchez-Parga argues that they actually strengthened the indigenous movement, converting ethnic groups into new social actors (2010:63). These groups joined forces with other actors such as federations and NGOs and would continue to fight for indigenous identity and rights within Ecuador. These laws also signified a new social/agricultural strategy of rural development in which increasingly indigenous farmers received salaries and sold their goods in fairs and rural markets (2010). As a result, the number of NGOs working on rural development in Ecuador increased dramatically in the 1970 s and 80 s (2010). Modern Agriculture in Ecuador Today, most agriculture practiced in Ecuador can be described as conventional. Many producers represent small farmers who grow mainly for subsistence and live within the informal markets of their communities. Increasingly, however, a few farmers produce one or two crops on a large scale, mostly for export. These producers often represent large agribusinesses that have built up influence since the 1980 s and produce competitively to survive in the world market (Campana, Larrea, and Rubio 2008). When these agribusinesses reduce their prices below production costs, small producers cannot compete and are exploited (2008). Additional laws have also hurt small producers, including the privatization of many state services and the 1994 Agrarian Development Law, which legally transformed many communal lands into private property (2008). Both large and small farmers tend to use large doses of pesticides and fertilizers. In a study of potato production in Carchi, Ecuador, the International Development Research Centre found that 4 out of 10,000 people die from pesticide exposure yearly and as many as 4 out of 100 people living in rural areas suffer from pesticide poisoning that they do not report to authorities. 51 These chemicals, such as Carbofuran and methamidophos, tend to be some of the most dangerous concoctions produced, typically sent to countries in the Global South when banned in the U.S. and sold in Ecuador for cheap. 52 To make matters worse, these chemicals also tend to be mixed in producer homes and applied with poor-quality equipment, directly exposing producers. 53 Of Ecuador s 26,079,600 hectares of area, 12,355,831 hectares are available for agricultural production, representing 842,882 productive units (Saltos and Vázquez S. 2009). 54 In 2008, 78 percent of all agricultural land produced just five crops: bananas, cocoa, coffee, plantain, and African palm (2009). The implications of this trend are astounding: because these five crops are oriented toward export, only about 10 percent of all agricultural land is dedicated to domestic food production (2009). 55 Despite agrarian reform, land is still held unevenly in Ecuador, with large tracts of fertile land held by a few landowners and small tracts of poor-quality land held by many small producers. As a result, the 2000 Agricultural Census reported that those productive units representing less than 20 hectares produced about half of all food eaten in Ecuador (Saltos and Vázquez S. 2009). Although agriculture has lost much of its economic value to other sectors like petroleum and construction, those who do work in agriculture therefore feel pressure to produce (2009). A rising trend of urbanization is one factor that creates this pressure. As of 2009, only 30 percent of Ecuador s population lived in rural areas, while the rest had moved to major cities (2009). Still between 2007 and 2008, more than 75 percent of all employed Ecuadorians worked in some sector related to agriculture (2009). Thus, it is clear that a majority of Ecuadorians depend on 22

41 agriculture despite its low economic value, and most of the food consumed domestically is grown by small rural producers who represent a minority in Ecuador. This uneven production has negative implications for the sustainability of Ecuador s agricultural sector, especially given the discussed ecological and social problems from the legacy of the Green Revolution. Despite these disheartening trends, there is evidence that many Ecuadorians are searching for alternatives to current production that take into account social and environmental externalities. Two examples include a new ecological Constitutional clause and the rise of organic agriculture. A Recent Development: Right of Nature One of the reasons why Ecuador is such a fascinating case to study is because it is the first country in Latin America and the world to include the Right of Nature (Derecho de la Naturaleza) in its constitution. On September 28, 2008, Ecuadorians voted this clause, composed of five articles, into Ecuador s constitution. 56 As the constitution states: Nature will be subject to those rights recognized by the Constitution Nature or Pachamama has the right that one respects its existence integrally as well as the maintenance and regeneration of its vital cycles, functions, and processes of evolution 57 Unlike other efforts to protect the environment, the Right of Nature clause is unique because it views Nature as an entity with agency like that of any voter. This is a new view that contrasts Nature s role in the capitalist system: an exploitable object (Saltos y Vázquez S. 2009). Nonetheless, the Right of Nature clause does not attempt to limit all economic development but rather it tries to protect nature through sustainable development (Acosta and Martínez 2009). Given Ecuador s vibrant biodiversity and struggle to manage new wealth from its oil reserves, it makes sense for Ecuador to be the first Latin American country to adopt a law giving express rights to Nature. While the implications of this new clause are yet to be determined, it is clear that the environment and its conservation are on the minds of Ecuadorians. Ecuadorians are thinking about Nature in a fundamentally different way from what is promoted by Western ideas, that people should think about how their actions affect Nature and work to protect it for future generations. This kind of perspective is likely to facilitate the introduction and spread of organic agriculture, an agricultural system that promotes sustainability and a positive relationship between humans and Nature. As Ecuadorians consider new solutions to environmental problems, it may be that organic agriculture is an attractive alternative to conventional agriculture. Rise of Sustainable Agriculture: Organic Agriculture and Agroecology Despite some of its criticisms, organic agriculture itself has recently begun to emerge in Ecuador as a viable option for sustainable agriculture. As cited from the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), by 2007, land that is certified organic has increased to 62,262 hectares and land that is in transition to organic agriculture covers 3,316 hectares (Willer and Kilcher 2009). 58 Combined, these two types of land have increased from 17% to 49% per year since 2001 (2009). See also Table 2.1 for the growth of organic land from 2001 to Clearly, there is an upward trend in organic agriculture in Ecuador. In addition to organic agriculture, another form of sustainable agriculture, agroecology, is also becoming popular. This type of agriculture and its implications will be discussed more fully in Chapter 6: Access to the Organic Market. 23

42 Table 2.1 Estimated Organic Land in Ecuador (hectares) Adapted from: Consumo de Productos Orgánicos/Agroecológicos en los Hogares Ecuatorianos VECO (2008) Organic Land Certified Land 11,000 16,377 24,000 29,752 36, , , Land in ,501 5, , , Transition Total Land 11,000 16,400 24,000 35,252 41, , , Yearly Growth 49.1% 46.3% 46.88% 17.60% 11.30% 11.9% This thesis will explore the spread of organic agriculture (and agroecology) more fully in the following chapters. It will study the macro-level to some extent but focus mainly on the case study of small farmers adopting organic agriculture in the community of Perucho. Background of Perucho El sol caliente en mi ventana, La escarcha brilla en tu pelo blanco, Un cartel de cortinas de humo, Desaparece en cada mañana. El trabajo es la esperanza, Y el futuro para mi pueblo, Vivo por tus caricias, Perucho de mis entrañas. Perucho lindo y majestuoso, Eres cálido en tus montañas, Y sueñas que en cada mañana, La escarcha brilla en tu pelo blanco - Edwin Campaña and Rolando Pasquel 59 Perucho is the town where I conducted my fieldwork in The following section provides a geographical, historical, and demographic background of this small Ecuadorian community. Geography San Miguel de Perucho is the name for a parish (parroquia) surrounded by five other parishes, Chavezpamba, San José de Minas, Puéllaro, Atahualpa, and San Antonio, located within the canton of Quito (about 70 kilometers north of the city limits). Perucho is almost 10 square kilometers in area at an altitude of 1,833 m.s.n.m. 60 Nestled in the valley of the Sierras, Perucho is known for its tranquil community, fertile land, and fantastic mountain views. It is located on the Ruta Escondida (hidden route), a bicycle and walking tourist project funded by the Municipio del Distrito Metropolitano de Quito. Perucho tends to have a warm-dry climate, with an average temperature of about 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. 61 However, it is also home to several microclimates, with characteristics similar to the coast, the páramo, and in the higher reaches, a cold-humid microclimate. See the next page for a map of Perucho and the Ruta Escondida. History Although Perucho was established on September 29, 1546 by the Spanish, its origins date back to pre-hispanic times. The name of the town actually comes from its early inhabitants, the Piruchos, who controlled a territory between the Guayllabamba and Pisque rivers. While not much is known about the Piruchos, it is believed that they were conquered by the Incas during their reign in the region. These ancestors thrived on the production of coca, corn, guinea pigs and llamas. After the Spanish arrived and baptized the town San Miguel de Perucho, Jesuits arrived in the 16 th century and took control of large haciendas where they produced sugarcane and grain. The Spanish led a campaign to evangelize and properly educate the native peoples. Perucho prospered due to its fertile soils and local labor for agricultural, and later, brandy production

43 Figure 2.2 Map of Perucho and Ruta Escondida 63 Perucho rose to prominence during the era of Independence (early 1800 s) and officially became a parish in Soon after in 1868, however, Perucho faced a massive earthquake, which almost completely destroyed its church and much of its infrastructure. Perucho continued to face hard times when malaria and diphtheria epidemics ravaged the population and killed most infants. As a result of these epidemics and the rise of agricultural diseases, survivors moved away. They either formed their own towns, which today are the five parishes listed above, or they moved into the nearby capital city, Quito, in search of a better life. Consequently, Perucho s current population remains small compared to nearby communities. Nonetheless, Perucho is moving on and pursuing projects to improve the lives of its people through the Junta Parroquial, established in Many plans are outlined in Perucho s Plan de Desarrollo Participativo

44 Figure 2.3 Main Road to Perucho Community and Economic Activity Today, the main economic activities in Perucho are agriculturally-based: crop production, flower production, bird production and local product commerce. Perucho has a long agricultural history, including recent experimentation in the 20 th century by the Agricultural Center of Quito and the Ministry of Agriculture to introduce new fruits like citrus and avocado. Primary crops include: corn, mandarin orange, citrus, avocado, coffee, alfalfa, onion, lettuce, tomato, beans, papaya, and medicinal plants. Primary livestock include: cows, pigs, chickens, guinea pigs, and rabbits. Much of the flower production refers to those who work in the nearby flower plantations (florícolas). These plantations have been in Ecuador since the 1980 s and generally produce flowers for export to countries of the Global North (Saltos and Vázquez S. 2009). Florícolas represent the agricultural industry with the largest volume of export in the Sierra region, consisting of over 500 enterprises through the country (2009). Beyond contributing to the national and local economy, flower production has resulted in negative consequences, including loss of land for local agriculture and environmental and health effects from the volume of chemicals and pesticides used in the production process (2009). In Perucho, a large percentage of people work in the nearby flower plantations as a main or supplementary source of income. Despite these activities, the population of Perucho has remained well below 1,000 for some time as people look elsewhere for job opportunities. As a result of limited employment, much of Perucho s population lives in poverty. Plan de Desarrollo Participativo reports that 82 percent of residents live in poverty and 47.4 percent live in extreme poverty, as of The plan also states that 545 community members receive benefits from the government (bono solidario). 66 Although the community now has a modern health clinic with regular medical staff, the majority 26

45 Figure 2.4 Author drying coffee beans Figure 2.5 Serpentine plot of sweet potatoes of residents lack basic services. In 2001, only about 10 percent of homes had a telephone, 25 percent had a sanitation system, and 12 percent had a regular garbage collection service. 67 While these numbers may have improved in the last decade, their low magnitude gives a sense of the difficult living conditions. Nonetheless, Perucho remains a peaceful town with people who are friendly and eager to show off the natural wonders of their community. Perucho Organic Farm Michael Ayala owns Perucho Organic Farm, a small family farm where he runs his international volunteer program, Perucho Organic Agriculture Experience (POAE). The farm consists of two small plots of land, one connected to the farmhouse and one on the outskirts of town, that are about 2 hectares in area, with an area of influence of 9.73 square kilometers. The farm is certified organic by the certification body PROBIO, the NGO for which Michael currently serves as the president. Although the farm was recently certified, it has grown crops organically for over 25 years, starting with the work of Michael s father, Silvio Ayala. The farm is mostly self-sufficient, producing varied crops from lemon and mandarin orange trees to bananas, coffee, tobacco, assorted vegetables, and guava, as well as medicinal plants like lemongrass and aloe vera and decorative flowers. Volunteers from around the world can visit the farm to learn about practices of organic agriculture through hands-on activities, as well as to help to promote organic agriculture to others in Perucho and surrounding communities through weekly organic classes. 27

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47 CHAPTER 3. Organic Agriculture for Development: Institutions and (Inter)national NGOs In the 21 st century, agriculture continues to be a fundamental instrument for sustainable development and poverty reduction promoting agriculture is imperative for meeting the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty and hunger by 2015 it is time to place agriculture afresh at the center of the development agenda World Bank, This chapter begins to analyze the actors involved in spreading organic agriculture in Ecuador. More specifically, the chapter explores those actors who work on the national level. These actors can be divided into two main groups: state-based organizations, such as the Ecuadorian government and foreign governments, and civil society organizations: national and foreign NGOs. These actors influence the flow of information and funding resources and determine larger development projects related to organic agriculture. An identification of these actors, 69 as well as their strategies and agendas, is important for tracing the process of diffusion. This is especially significant to determine whether Ecuadorian organic agriculture is a phenomenon adopted from the Global North or whether it represents a unique set of practices in the Global South. This question alludes to the existence of power relations, which will be discussed. In Chapter 1, I proposed two hypotheses to explain the spread of organic agriculture. The first part of the hypothesis states that organic agriculture adoption results from neoclassical economics. More specifically, as trade liberalization increases between Ecuador and the Global North, demand for organic products increases, resulting in increased organic agriculture. The second part of the hypothesis, by contrast, states: if there are legitimate and capable actors who promote organic agriculture through cultural fit, 70 local farmers will adopt organic practices. With these hypotheses in mind, I discuss three major themes in this chapter: agenda, strategy, and relationships. I argue that several institutions work at the top of the chain of actors to promote organic agriculture in Ecuador. These institutions include branches of the government, scientific institutions, and certification bodies. At least on paper, they seek a common agenda to regulate and promote organic agriculture for national development. 71 Although the government is the ultimate authority of Ecuadorian organic agriculture, its organic agriculture initiatives remain underdeveloped. This fact greatly affects the development of the sector, especially funding for scientific research. However, there is some evidence to suggest a budding interest in organic agriculture among Ministry of Agriculture extension agents. Development agendas pursued by foreign government agencies may aid this trend by inciting State interest. 29

48 The initiatives of these institutions are more recent and less sincere than the second set of actors I identify: (inter)national NGOs. Both national and international NGOs fill roles as middlemen in Ecuador, working directly with both higher institutions and local actors like small farmers to promote organic agriculture. These NGOs are generally more established and have a different agenda. International NGOs tend to focus on helping to lift small farmers out of poverty through sustainable agriculture and tend to have more resources at their disposal. National NGOs, on the other hand, tend to focus on individual empowerment and reestablishing a connection between nature and people and face more scarce resources. Differing agendas and funding sources likely cause a power struggle between actors that can influence the development of diffusion. The first section of this chapter studies the major Ecuadorian and foreign institutional actors involved in the diffusion of organic agriculture and how their roles remain underdeveloped. The second section explores the middlemen, national and international NGOs and organizations that work on organic and sustainable agriculture initiatives. It compares how national NGOs have limited resources but serve an important connector role, while foreign NGOs tend to have more abundant resources but work more individually. The final section analyzes the connections between the actors and the power network that forms as a result. The actors are ranked in terms of their effectiveness in spreading organic agriculture. From the Top: The Role of Institutions This section explores some of the more influential institutions that control and spread organic agriculture on a national level within Ecuador, including the Ministry of Agriculture, AGROCALIDAD, INIAP, certification bodies, and development institutions, with a view to regulating organic agriculture through law and scientific study. Whereas other actors work on a regional and local level, these actors have the power to write and enforce laws about organic production. They serve as gatekeepers between domestic producers and foreign, primarily Global North, consumers in the international market for organic products. A brief description of the institution as well as an analysis of its initiatives and relationship with other actors is explored. The Ministry of Agriculture, Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería, Acuacultura y Pesca (MAGAP), is the highest authority that governs organic agriculture in Ecuador (Willer and Kilcher 2009). MAGAP works closely with its subsidiaries AGROCALIDAD and Subsecretaria de Fomento Agroproductivo (DIPA), as well as public institution INIAP to regulate and fund organic agriculture production in the country. The government has only recently become involved in its regulation, creating the first legal framework for organic production through El Derecho Ejecutivo No in March 2003 and el Acuerdo Ministerial con el Reglamento de la Normativa de la Producción Orgánica Agropecuaria en el Ecuador in August 2003 (Willer and Kilcher 2009; Vega Vaca 2006). More recently, it revised these regulations in Registro Oficial No. 384 on October 25, 2006 (Andrade Ortiz and Flores 2008). According to Registro Oficial No. 384, the government acknowledges its responsibility to support organic agriculture in Ecuador: organic agriculture as a form of life and sustainable development of Ecuadorian agriculture deserves state support of its production, as a viable alternative to contribute to the competitiveness of the agricultural sector. 72 This statement also reveals the Ministry of Agriculture s agenda for organic agriculture, namely, to develop the country in a sustainable manner and to increases its advantage in the international agricultural market. Quoted in Rodríguez and Flores (2007), MAGAP Ing. Agr. Pablo Rizzo Pastor points out the clear economic incentive of an organic industry that has grown at over 40 percent 30

49 Table 3.1 Leading Institutions in Ecuador Controlling Organic and Sustainable Agriculture a Institution Founded Main Activities b Country c Rank f MAGAP --- R, G, E, M, C Ecuador 4 AGROCALIDAD 2008 d R, G, C Ecuador 5 INIAP 1959 R, E, C Ecuador Certification Bodies e 3 BCS 1992 O Germany Ecocert 1991 O France Naturland 1982 O Germany Biolatina 1998 O Latin America SGS 1878 O Switzerland Skal 1996 O Netherlands IMO Control 1990 O Switzerland CERES 2004 O Germany a This table and system of analysis is adapted from Goldberger s (2008b) study of Kenyan organic agriculture NGOs b T = training, R = research and testing, G = regulation, E = extension, M = marketing, C = consultancy, O = organic certification c Country refers to the country of origin and control for this institution d This is the year that regulation transformed SESA into AGROCALIDAD e These certification bodies are based on the top certifiers indicated by the Directory of Organic Products of Ecuador (Vega Vaca 2006) f Rank signifies rank of effectiveness in spreading organic agriculture, with 1 signifying highly effective and 5 signifying low effectiveness 73 annually due to international demand (2007:7). Indeed, MAGAP has supported some projects such as Agricultura Orgánica en Ecuador, a report on the state of organic agriculture published by German development institution GIZ (2007). However, there is not a lot of current evidence to gauge the government s current interest in organic agriculture. As of 2008, no government in Latin America supported organic producers through economic means, such as subsidies (Willer et. al. 2008:173). 74 During my research, it wasalso difficult to find representatives and resources explaining the institution s actual rolein promoting organic agriculture. I visited the Quito headquarters of MAGAP in January 2011, but I could not connect with anyone representing organic agriculture to interview. Several employees 31

50 in the archives department had a difficult time identifying a person to recommend, as well as a form of contact. It was also difficult to track down documents and resources about organic agriculture directly through MAGAP s website. The challenge of connecting with a MAGAP employee who could speak to the regulations and trends in organic agriculture puts into the question the relative significance of organic agriculture on Ecuador s national agenda. Despite a growing international market, perhaps Ecuadorian agricultural officials view organic agriculture with relatively low importance compared to lucrative conventional agriculture. As Belgian NGO VECO Andino reports: The Ecuadoran state kept pumping money in measures that are not to the benefit of small farmers, such as the promotion of agro-fuels, more chemical fertilizers. 75 Instead, it is more likely that the Ministry of Agriculture is newly defining its role as the regulator of organic production. Michael Ayala pointed out that MAGAP is working in collaboration with PROBIO and the local Perucho government on the organic adoption project in Perucho (interview July 6, 2010). I had the opportunity to speak with Sr. Agustín Guananga, a MAGAP extension officer who works on this project as one of the course teachers. Guananga works at the regional level surrounding the Perucho community with his headquarters in San Jose de Minas (see map in Appendix) providing extension services and technical advice in the countryside (interview July 20, 2010). He was trained as an agronomic engineer at the Central University in Quito and now strives to improve the conditions of small producers in these communities and to unite organizations to achieve agricultural projects (interview July 20, 2010). At the conclusion of my fieldwork in August 2010, he also organized three new extension agents for MAGAP that arrived to work in each of three surrounding communities. There are additional signs that the government is interested in participating in sustainable agriculture initiatives, as Verónica Andino of VECO Andino reports during a November 2009 meeting with El Movimiento de Economía Social y Solidaria del Ecuador (MESSE): Maybe it was not the first time that a Minister of Agriculture invited the representatives of farmers organisations for consultation, but To us this was something new we were surprised hearing the President say in November that he wanted a policy aiming at improving the living conditions of farmers families and not at large-scale agro-export This meeting and your contributions are very important, he said. At my ministry I always hear arguments that we cannot implement agro-ecological policies, because the farmers would be against it. Your interventions indicate the opposite. I ask you to develop concrete proposals for the next meeting concerning an agricultural policy that is based upon the agro-ecological model. This opened a window of opportunities 76 This experience reveals that dialogues between government officials and regional and local actors like this farmer s organization are starting to take place. What will be interesting to see unfold is how these conversations and agreements turn into national policy and action. At this point, it appears that MAGAP s commitment to organic agriculture lies more in its writing than in its agricultural initiatives for Ecuador. Agencia Ecuatoriana de Aseguramiento de la Calidad del Agro (AGROCALIDAD), originally known as Servicio Ecuatoriano de Sanidad Agropecuario (SESA), is an institution that oversees the system of private control of agricultural production in Ecuador (Vega Vaca 2006). The institution describes its goal as to measure and control precautionary animal and plant health status of agricultural products for domestic consumption and export (AGROCALIDAD). 77 One unit focuses specifically on organic agricultural control, with a team of four technicians who specialize in organic agriculture and perform activities like document revision and farm 32

51 inspections (Vega Vaca 2006). In 2005, AGROCALIDAD developed the Organic Product National Control System in collaboration with other actors such as the Ministry of Agriculture and GIZ (Willer and Kilcher 2009). AGROCALIDAD plays a role in organic production by testing and controlling common pests, studying new forms of natural pest control such as biological control, and creating organic production legislation. I visited AGROCALIDAD s office in Tumbaco during my fieldwork in January This office contains laboratories that test the following: plant pathology, entomology, nematology, pesticide residues, quality control of pesticides and livestock supplies, seeds, quality fertilizers, plant, soil and water, food science, bacteriology (AGROCALIDAD). I got a tour of these various labs, many of which were undergoing a slow process of renovation. Scientists in white lab coats were busy mixing, weighing, and testing different samples. During my visit, several university students visited to inquire about conducting research for their theses. This visit provided evidence that organic agriculture is becoming a part of the national agenda through scientific testing and regulation. While AGROCALIDAD s efforts signify more control over organic production, particularly certified, they also signify that the State is starting to fund projects to improve this kind of production for more successful harvests. To what extent MAGAP funds organic agriculture specifically is unclear and requires further research. Instituto Nacional Autónomo de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIAP) is another public institution that conducts scientific experiments to test agricultural practices and products. INIAP was founded in 1959 to find new solutions to Ecuador s agricultural problems (Delgado and Játiva 2010). INIAP s mission is to generate and deliver technological innovations, products, services and specialized training to contribute to sustainable development of the agricultural, agro-forestry and agribusiness sectors (Delgado and Játiva 2010). 78 One of the main objectives of this research, therefore, is to promote development in Ecuador by strengthening the agricultural sector (Delgado and Játiva 2010). There are currently 10 experimental research stations around the country where INIAP conducts its investigations (Delgado and Játiva 2010). In 2003, INIAP conducted 120 agricultural projects funded by the Ecuadorian government and from income from selling services and seeds (Bentley and Paz 2003). 79 Investigations cover issues like food security, crops of the common Ecuadorian diet, and more recently organic agriculture (Bentley and Paz 2003). Bentley and Paz report that, as of 2003, INIAP tends to focus on green revolution conventional agriculture, and it should increase its investigations of organic agriculture (Bentley and Paz 2003). I visited INIAP s Tumbaco research station during my visit to AGROCALIDAD and spoke to an agricultural engineer who organizes investigations and care of the extensive hectares of the station. This engineer has a similar role to that of Sr. Guananga of MAGAP as a technical expert who travels to the experimental stations to conduct projects. He explained that all crops at this station are produced organically without chemical inputs. Several workers tend this land, as well as university students conducting theses and learning about organic production through hands-on training. They experiment with different varieties of produce, as well as different methods for naturally controlling pests and diseases. Nonetheless, I did not have a chance to interview anyone directly from INIAP. I visited the headquarters in Quito, but a secretary I spoke to had difficulty identifying an appropriate representative. She suggested one person who travels regularly to 33

52 research stations in other parts of the country. Therefore, much of my information on INIAP comes from other sources (documents, INIAP s website and Bentley and Paz s study). The information I did gather shows that, like AGROCALIDAD, another public institution is starting to experiment with organic agricultural production. In this case, INIAP is less of a regulator and more of an R&D institution that attempts to study organic practices and create innovative ways to improve its production. AGROCALIDAD and INIAP both scientize organic agriculture, meaning that they create scientifically-based evidence to show its value (Goldberger 2008a). These activities help to legitimize organic agriculture as a viable form of agriculture. At the same time, they also quantify and regulate practices to the extent where a philosophy and values of sustainable production and small farmer empowerment can be lost. We will see how this agenda often comes at odds with that of national and international NGOs. The World Bank reports that before 1999, INIAP was the primary agricultural research entity in Ecuador funded by the government, with few resources for or partnerships established with other organizations. 80 However, Bentley and Paz point out that one of INIAP s main challenges continues to be finding sources of funding from the State because agriculture takes such a low priority in the government agenda (2003). In addition, scientists with degrees in agriculture remain limited. 81 Future research and development in the field of organic agriculture and effective methods of controlling pests will be essential to the continued spread of this form. Additional Institutional Actors In addition to the main institutions above that serve a regulation role with regard to organic production in Ecuador, there are numerous other actors that participate in the practice and spread of organic agriculture. Each type of actor holds a specific function in these processes, although, in general, they work in cooperation with the Ecuadorian government to increase and strengthen organic production in Ecuador Some to mention here are certification bodies and international development institutions. Although many are private, organic certification bodies are important actors that work cooperatively with state institutions and NGOs described in the next section. They regulate the production process of organic goods grown for the international organic market. The Directory of Organic Products of Ecuador reports that the main certification bodies in 2006 were: BCS (48.1% of certified organic land), Ecocert (20.3%), Naturland (8.8%), Biolatina (5.3%), SGS (0.8%), Skal (6.2%), IMO Control (0.3%), and CERES (10.2%) (Vega Vaca 2006). Table 1 describes each of these certification bodies, their year of founding, and their country of origin. What we can see from this table is that the majority of these bodies are international and from Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Netherlands). Only one certifier, BioLatina, is a Latin American institution. This observation is consistent with the fact that the majority of certified-organic products serve Global North consumers (Willer and Kilcher 2009). It follows that these products must pass the certification standards of Global North countries, and therefore, foreign certifiers have a large stake in the process of organic certification. This trend alludes to a likely case of power play in which Global North institutions control most of the international organic market; it is likely that Ecuador does not have much influence to name its own terms of transaction. Second, we see that most of these bodies formed during the 1990 s, indicating that the structure and regulation of the certified-organic market is relatively new. It may be that non- 34

53 certified-organic production occurred prior to this period without facing regulation from respective institutions. Organic certification in Ecuador will be discussed in Chapter 6. Another type of actor involved in the promotion of Ecuadorian organic agriculture is what I will call the development institution. This kind of actor represents one of the large, powerful international institutions that pushes a development agenda in the Global South and funds many development projects for other organizations. They therefore have a large stake in the process of spreading organic agriculture throughout Ecuador. Some examples of development institutions that promote organic agriculture in Ecuador are: the World Bank, which funds the agricultural research program Programa de Modernización de los Servicios Agropecuarios (PROMSA), 82 USAID, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 83 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 84 and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 85 A specific example of a public development institution is Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) 86. GIZ is a German organization funded primarily by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) that works around the world. 87 GIZ started working in Ecuador in 1973 as part of a cooperation between the German and Ecuadorian governments to promote Ecuador s development. GIZ s mission is to: further political, economic, ecological and social development worldwide, and so improve people s living conditions. We provide services that support complex development and reform processes. 88 In Ecuador, GIZ has two main projects: PROMODE, which focuses on modernization and decentralization, and GESOREN, which focuses on the environment and sustainable management of resources (Mr. Fuchtjohann interview January 14, 2011). A major project funder is KfW Entwicklungs, a German development bank (interview January 14, 2011). I interviewed Mr. Fuchtjohann, Knowledge Management Advisor, about the GESOREN program, which includes an organic agriculture initiative. This initiative works with associations of small producers in different provinces to promote the direct commercialization of organic and fair trade products in special markets (interview January 14, 2011). The purpose of this initiative is to create special markets for value-added products like chocolate to improve the livelihoods of these farmers and therefore discourage them from using natural resources like wood for income (interview). A team of six technical advisors is responsible for corresponding with and aiding these farmer associations. GIZ also helps these farmers to certify their products according to international organic standards by subsidizing the high certification costs (interview). One of the challenges that Mr. Fuchtjohann highlighted at the local level is the difficulty of connecting local farmer s working styles with the demands of the international organic and fair trade market. He said that many farmers are not used to negotiating with companies or keeping a strict schedule with a quality standard for their products (interview). Therefore, it is hard for them to meet rigid demand requirements. In addition, these producers often lack an accountant and therefore must hire someone to take care of their bookkeeping; they live in a different culture with different ways of working that can be frustrating to outsiders. At the national level, another challenge is the instability of government official positions. Officials like those in the Ministry of Environment, change positions frequently, leading to new projects and rules that must be regularly negotiated with GIZ (interview). As a representative of Germany, GIZ must maintain good relations with the Ecuadorian government and not overstep their role (interview). 35

54 The above analysis reveals that these institutions present a development agenda for organic agricultural production, particularly a sustainable development agenda. Developing this agricultural sector helps to strengthen agriculture overall and boost a comparative advantage in the international market (INIAP booklet). While these institutions do talk about strengthening agriculture to boost food sovereignty and reduce poverty, their agenda appears to be nationallybased. That is to say, they focus less on small producer livelihoods and empowerment. The government and related institutions are playing an increasing role in the promotion and regulation of organic agriculture in Ecuador, yet their true interest is often difficult to gauge. During my research, it was challenging to identify and contact representatives of these institutions who are working specifically on organic agriculture initiatives (aside from GIZ). As a result, many turn to another type of organization working within Ecuador: NGOs. As will be discussed, these private actors generally maintain an effectiveness advantage over state actors. The Middleman: (Inter)national NGOs in Ecuador Since around the 1980 s a different type of organization has gained influence in the international arena: non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 89 NGOs with a development agenda have seen an unprecedented proliferation in the Global South and more are incorporating yearly to fill in gaps where national governments fail to provide human services and promote grassroots social and economic development (Goldberger 2008a:276). Goldberger notes that an increasing number of NGOs have taken up agricultural development agendas that promote sustainable or organic agriculture and in many cases have assumed roles and activities (e.g. agricultural research, technology development, and extension) formally undertaken by state organizations (2008a:276-77). Indeed, NGOs, rather than governments, have traditionally been the main actors supporting organic agriculture initiatives in Latin America (Willer and Kilcher 2009:184). As we saw in Chapter 1, NGOs are similarly proliferating in Ecuador. These NGOs are both national (Ecuadorian) and international and cover a broad array of issues, including the environment and sustainable agriculture (Meyer 1993). These organizations are working to promote more sustainable forms of agriculture as a strategy for poverty alleviation, and in some cases, food sovereignty. The relationships between these and other actors are highly interwoven. Many NGOs work with each other and simply focus on different regions for their activities, while others work more directly with government institutions in Ecuador and their own countries if they are foreign. Nonetheless, it does not appear as though there is an institutionalized infrastructure to bind and guide each organization s actions due to different overall agendas. Although there are many NGOs working within Ecuador, this section highlights some of the main organizations spreading organic agriculture: PROBIO, CEA, VECO Andino, and SWISSAID. Their mission and strategies, as well as their relationships are explored below. The data suggests some general trends about national versus international NGOs. National NGOs like PROBIO and CEA deviate from the traditional NGO and serve more as formal network organizations for actors involved in organic agriculture. They tend to focus on the individual producer and how to empower him or her through sustainable agriculture. They also focus on creating alternatives food systems and economies based on local solidarity. Their general lack of funds tends to limit their actions. By contrast, international NGOs like VECO Andino and SWISSAID tend to serve roles as more traditional NGOs with the agenda to lift people out of poverty using sustainable agriculture as a strategy for development. These organizations tend to have more resources at their disposal but do not serve as central nodes in this actor network. 36

55 Corporación Ecuatoriana de Agricultores Biológicos (PROBIO) is the oldest and most wellknown organization working on organic agriculture issues at the national level. 90 An initiative of 10 founding members in 1995, PROBIO now has over 25 years of experience, 26 regular members, and about 600 producers who promote the organization. The mission of PROBIO is to promote a healthy form of agricultural production, without chemicals, respecting life and nature. 91 Daisy Peña, a former program coordinator, describes PROBIO s core vision: It is precisely that the producers have the right to commercialize at a real price that also generates improvements in their quality of life. Thus, PROBIO proposes this within its lines of action. It proposes to guarantee to the consumer that these products are adequate. They do not have to be subject to third-party certifiers paying high prices, that increases the product cost and hence an ordinary farmer who does not have enough money simply cannot access it. It is another proposal of seeing is like you are friendly and you live in relation with the environment, Mother Earth that gives you food, and you feed 92 PROBIO strives to improve the lives of small producers by changing the nature of the current agricultural status quo. Although PROBIO started out training members in organic certification, it has since shifted its focus to more alternative solutions that do not require farmers to certify (Michael Ayala interview, July 6, 2010). It creates new opportunities for small farmers such as a participatory guarantee system, an alternative certification system (see Chapter 6 for more details). Nonetheless, there are clear norms written and revised to guide agricultural production. To fulfill this mission, PROBIO works to spread and teach about organic farming, to empower rural farmers to practice and share experiences about agroecology, and to design and implement organic agriculture norms among its members and producers. 93 Its three branches of activity include: (1) training in agroecological farming, (2) work with the local governments to implement these farms, and (3) advocacy for sustainable agriculture (Daisy Peña interview June 18, 2010). One method for spreading knowledge and support for organic agriculture is through farmer s markets. PROBIO works with other actors promote markets throughout Quito, including the Feria de Arte y Cultura (see Chapter 6). Another is through capacity-building projects in small communities, such as Michael Ayala s Perucho organic agriculture project. Several characteristics make PROBIO stand out from similar organizations in Ecuador. For one thing, PROBIO is nationally-based, that is to say that it was started and is run by Ecuadorians. Sr. Gangotena describes PROBIO as a hybrid between an NGO and a social movement (interview January 17, 2011). This definition is interesting because NGOs are primarily thought of as stable organizations, whereas social movements are viewed as unstable. This tension suggests that PROBIO, although an established organization with a long history, is different from other organizations in its agenda and activities. For instance, PROBIO is not directly controlled by a foreign institution or government. Therefore, it may follow less of a development aid approach and more of an Ecuadorian empowerment approach. Another unique aspect is that its members are also producers, practicing what they promote (Michael Ayala interview July 6, 2010). For instance, many members, like Michael, bring crops they grow on their farms to the markets in the city. In this way, they are immersed in the issues for which they advocate and understand the main challenges faced by their constituency: the small farmer. Although it is one of the foremost organizations promoting organic agriculture in Ecuador, PROBIO faces the challenges of limited resources and support from the government. My visit to its headquarters reveals a modest office in a building shared with CEA. The quarters are tight, yet PROBIO has a wealth of resources in its library covering its activities and other sustainable 37

56 Table 3.2 Leading NGOs in Ecuador Promoting Organic and Sustainable Agriculture a Organization b Founded c Country Main Activities d Geographic range Rank g PROBIO 1995 Ecuador T, C, M, A, (O) National; Pichincha 2 CEA 1990 Ecuador T, R, M, C, A National; Pichincha; 2 5 other regions VECO Andino 1980 Belgium T, R, M, C, F, A National; 8 Provinces 2 GIZ e 1973 Germany T, R, M, C, O, F National; 4 Provinces f 3 SWISSAID 1978 Switzerland T, R, M, C, A National; 6 Provinces 2 a This table and system of analysis is adapted from Goldberger s (2008b) study of Kenyan organic agriculture NGOs b The full names of these organizations can be found in the body of this chapter c Founded refers to the year this organization started working in Ecuador. For many international organizations, their year of founding is older than the year they started working in Ecuador itself. d T = training, R = research, E = extension, M = marketing, A = advocacy, C = consultancy, F = financing, O = organic certification e Although GIZ is described above as a development institution, I group it here with national and international NGOs because many of its activities are similar. f GIZ works in four provinces for its GESOREN project g Rank signifies rank of effectiveness in spreading organic agriculture, with 1 signifying highly effective and 5 signifying low effectiveness agriculture initiatives. During my interview at VECO, Diego Andrade Ortiz suggested several times that I connect with PROBIO for certain pieces of information for my research. This suggests that organic agriculture is not a high priority in Ecuadorian society or for the government. Until then, PROBIO must strive to maintain its existence and fight for more sustainable agriculture. 38

57 Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Agroecología (CEA) is another Ecuadorian organization that promotes agroecology directly and therefore organic agriculture indirectly (because they share similar philosophies and principles). Founded in 1990, CEA describes itself as an integrated body of public and private institutions, farmer organizations and individuals that has a coordinating role in the overall sustainable agriculture movement. 94 Thus, CEA organizes projects on a national level, as well as a network of organizations to spread agroecology. CEA s mission is to build a sustainable development proposal based on agroecology, by coordinating processes of training, dissemination and debate nationally and internationally by creating a space where members and interested people can discuss agroecology as an alternative form of development in Ecuador. 95 The organization fulfills this mission through four lines of action: (1) Training in principles of agroecology and sustainable development, (2) Research on agroecological models and systems of agriculture, (3) Knowledge generation and spread of information about agroecology and sustainable development to the general public, and (4) Coordination and organization of CEA members and related organizations in the network. 96 Unfortunately, CEA also faces limited resources, as evidenced by their modest office in Quito. However, the organization has been strong in its ability to build a network of people promoting agroecology. As José Pepe Rivadeneira, Executive Coordinator of CEA, explains: Those who are grouped into [CEA] are especially NGOs working in rural development. And these NGOs are grouped together because... they started to hear the word agroecology... What is this agroecology and how do we value what rural farming [has been doing] for a long time?... This concept of agroecology speaks of traditional knowledge... We were also relating to other experiences in Latin America... and some people who had successful reflections and practical experience in agroecology in other countries and here too. And then in the first major step we dedicated ourselves to training... Ninety percent of those speaking of agroecology are peasant leaders, people from universities, people of the state... many people... every member of the network continues to conduct training with our partners. Let's say this was the basis of what could be called a critical mass to spread agro-ecology 97 Creating relationships between organic agriculture actors and establishing a network of these actors is an important role for CEA to play because there is strength in numbers. Although CEA does not have a lot of physical resources, a group of like-minded organizations and actors working together can accomplish much more than CEA can independently. Vredeseilanden Country Office en la región Andina (VECO Andino) is a branch of a Belgian NGO made up of three organizations (Vredeseilanden, Coopibo and Fado), which works specifically in the Andean region of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. As of 2007, VECO s mission: envisions a world in which the families claim their rights to the creation of sustainable livelihoods. These families are developed within the framework of sustainable agricultural activities in a manner that is economically profitable and environmentally beneficial to the social processes and local culture Vredeseilanden wants to help create a more sustainable livelihood and the empowerment of organized family farmers, men and women in the South and North. 98 VECO Andino works to create this sustainable livelihood for farmers in the Andes, including Ecuador. More specifically, they work to strengthen food sovereignty and develop sustainable commodity chains from sustainable agricultural goods that improve the lives of producers, focusing on gender, participation and intercultural exchange. 99 VECO s services include 39

58 generating and disseminating knowledge, financing projects, and offering technical expertise. 100 According to their website, VECO works with about 2,500 families of small farmers as well as several farmer s organizations and NGOs in Ecuador. 101 Diego Andrade Ortiz, Regional Coordinator of Sustainable Agriculture Chain Development, explained the objectives of their new project for : (1) to create sustainable agricultural market chains that improve net income at the local and regional level, (2) to see organized family farmers, male and female, successfully influencing public and private decision makers, (3) to increase consumer demand for products in sustainable agricultural market chains, and (4) to increase recognition of VECOs as experts in sustainable agricultural market chains. 102 VECO helps small farmer associations to produce and market sustainably produced goods like coffee and chocolate such that the market chain has fewer intermediaries and adds more value to the producer (interview January 11, 2011). The organization offers financing and technical advice to make this happen. However, the NGO tends to promote agroecology as a viable form of sustainable agriculture over organic agriculture because it recognizes the barrier to entry that organic certification can present to small farmers (interview). SWISSAID is a Swiss NGO that started working in Ecuador in SWISSAID s mission is to: strengthen the capacities of poor people to achieve food security, access to water, and exercise their individual and collective rights We support new and unconventional initiatives discovered by the people themselves, promoting self-management groups through improving their selfesteem, personal development, organizational capacity and the recovery of their dignity and identity. 103 The organization s main project are: (1) food security, including agroecological agriculture, healthy eating, and alternative commercialization, (2) environmental management, including sustainable management of natural and water resources, and strengthening organizational partnerships, such as developing group capacity and connection to local networks. 104 Among other sources, SWISSAID receives funding for these projects from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (known as COSUDE in Spanish). 105 SWISSAID takes a unique approach to fulfill its mission, a strategy it calls Acompañamiento. As Lilián Vallejo Gordón, Program Coordinator for SWISSAID, explains, this strategy calls for SWISSAID team members to work collaboratively with communities to help them discover their existing strengths and resources, to design innovative solutions to their problems, and to provide sufficient technical support to get to project in motion (interview January 20, 2011). The purpose is to support and empower, rather than to take over and solve problems for people. SWISSAID supports organic agriculture initiatives in Ecuador to improve the basic food supply situation of small farmers. 106 Sra. Gordón, however, pointed out that SWISSAID s perspective and strategies for promoting organic agriculture have changed in recent years. As she explains: We do not do organic farming. Understand? What we do is farming without chemicals. It's different... because you can control the plot of a person. But what happens when all the surroundings are farming with chemicals The chemicals are passed to where I am farming, without chemicals, and my product is not completely organic. So first SWISSAID Ecuador has said it needs to be transparent, not only with donors but also transparent to the people who buy our now we've done is we have promoted the creation of a brand that is called biogranjas. Biogranjas clearly specifies in the logo that biogranjas is chemical-free production... We have done an advertising campaign, well, we are starting but we are using the level of local fairs, etc...we also want to distinguish [our farmers]. So, what we consider farmers and farmers without chemicals, which are in the middle of the process, which are in an initiation phase of this 40

59 process...what is it that we are strengthening? First, learn more about our partners. We are obliged to do that...because you only see a change of attitude, that is, we as SWISSAID should measure the impact we have...we have also changed the view of development. Because before [we said]...well, all farmers are equal. Then to all you have to teach boil [preparation]. All must be made to prepare organic manure. Now we say no. Because when we know each farmer, it depends on many factors to differentiate them... Therefore, our conception of acompañamiento this process has also changed dramatically 107 Unlike other organizations that support organic agriculture or agroecology, SWISSAID is upfront about the quality of the organic production is supports. Recognizing that modern organic agriculture is not strictly organic, SWISSAID now promotes a new name for this form of sustainable agriculture: biogranja. 108 This new term offers more legitimacy to the foreign NGO. SWISSAID is also stepping out of the traditional role of a foreign organization by taking into account the unique qualities and needs of its constituency. As an established NGO with 33 years of experience in the country, SWISSAID takes a different approach by listening to communities and guiding them based on their particular circumstances. In this way, SWISSAID does focus on the individual producer and how to improve his or her livelihood through sustainable agriculture. Connecting the Dots: Actor Relationships A key step to trace the process of diffusion of organic agriculture in Ecuador is to identify the relationships between the main actors. This step is highly complex and difficult to determine with a high degree of certainty. However, this section attempts to start a schematic that draws connections between the actors described in this chapter. 109 The intent is that this diagram will provide vital information about who is connected to whom, the nature of this relationship, and to start to map whether power dynamics exist that affect the diffusion process. The figure below provides some interesting initial observations about this network of actors. The central nodes of this network are the two national NGOs, PROBIO and CEA, and to some extent as well, MAGAP. Although these national NGOs suffer from lack of funds, they fulfill an important role as a hub of the network, negotiating relationships between actors. As a result, they rely on the strength of many to compensate for their own limited resources. All actors are also directly or indirectly connected to the Ministry of Agriculture due to its new regulatory role governing organic production in the country. These nodes are indicated by darker shades of blue (higher intensity of activity) and larger circles in the diagram above. Because MAGAP s role as a regulator of organic agriculture is underdeveloped, organizations and NGOs may be more effective transmitters of organic agricultural knowledge and practice. These organizations collectively may be more influential in the process of diffusion than MAGAP. With simply the actors identified here, we can see that a number of foreign countries in Europe have a stake in the spread of organic agriculture. Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland support and are represented by several organizations and NGOs. These organizations are either funded by the government or by development agencies within the country. These foreign funders can play a major role in the activities of the organization, as Sra. Vallejo Gordón explains: I think our financers are also going to influence the evolution of Ecuador because one of the strong funders is COSUDE, a fund well, an institution of the Swiss government. 110 Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland have certification bodies working to regulate organic certification. In addition, the US has a stake in the process through development institutions like USAID. While all of these countries likely have power to influence this process of diffusion, 41

60 Figure 3.1 Schematic of Relationships between Organic Agriculture Actors 111 there are many foreign actors involved, and therefore, each one cannot take complete control. Some countries may have more influence than others. For instance, Germany has both GIZ and a certification body promoting organic agriculture, while France has a certification body only. Many of the private NGOs and organizations are connected to foreign countries and also to each other. VECO Andino, PROBIO, and CEA work cooperatively on project, for example. While it is likely that all of these organizations communicate with each other, Mr. Fuchtjohann from GIZ pointed out that these organizations often work in different regions and provinces of Ecuador, and therefore, some work more independently than others. These organizations also work with MAGAP, either to get funds or work on legislation if they are Ecuadorian (CEA and PROBIO), or promote cooperation between Ecuador and foreign countries like those of Europe. It all comes down to agendas. We can see from the missions of the NGOs and organizations as well as the presence of foreign development institutions and agencies that a large majority of these actors want to encourage organic and sustainable agriculture to promote development and alleviate poverty. For some of the NGOs, especially those that are Ecuadorian, the agenda is also about individual empowerment and changing the nature of the agricultural sector and economy. These goals require NGOs to take an advocacy role to protect and empower their constituency. Due to the lack of initiative but a centralization of power, the Ecuadorian state must be pressured by independent groups like these NGOs to make organic agriculture central on the national agenda. As SWISSAID Sra. Vallejo Gordón illuminates: Another focus has two components, the issue of developing the capacity-building of group and the issue of network formation. Because every time we think that if there are no political changes, the network acts purely until a certain point it does not affect the [initiatives of] NGOs because the government should make governmental policy. Water drinkability should be a government policy, the NGOs should not do it. 42

61 But perhaps what we most need to change, rather, work hard in the exercise of rights [of our constituency] 112 SWISSAID recognizes that real change occurs when the government makes policies, not NGOs. However, if the government does not act to make these policies, NGOs must step in and advocate for the rights of their constituency to pressure the government to respond with action. These objectives may come at odds with the goals of foreign entities and the Ecuadorian government that also have an economic incentive. MAGAP works with certification bodies and these foreign countries to promote the international certified-organic market flowing from the Global South to the Global North. The NGOs, in many cases, want to promote agroecology (noncertified sustainable agriculture) and either alternative international commodity chains or local markets for sustainable goods. These goals likely conflict and result in a power struggle that affects the direction of organic spread and production. MAGAP is the key player, as SWISSAID Sra. Vallejo Gordón explains: We have united with some [actors], especially the government because if we unite with other NGOs, the problem is that when we have to make declarations [the process] is complicated because in the end the ministry [of agriculture] is the main actor (interview January 20, 2011). 113 From Institutions to NGOs to Local Actors: Tracing the Diffusion of Organic Agriculture This chapter set out with an ambitious goal: to identify and connect major actors on the national level who are promoting and regulating organic agriculture. I hypothesized that organic agriculture adoption results from neoclassical economics. As trade liberalization increases between Ecuador and the Global North, demand for organic products increases, resulting in increased organic agriculture. The second part of the hypothesis states that if there are legitimate and capable actors who promote organic agriculture, local farmers will adopt organic practices. The chapter looked first at major institutions representing the Ecuadorian government (MAGAP, AGROCALIDAD, and INIAP) as well as certification bodies and development institutions. We found that these institutions play regulating and funding roles that are essential to setting Ecuador s political agenda in the agricultural sector. MAGAP is the highest authority of organic agriculture in Ecuador. It does seem to be interested in a development and economic comparative advantage in the international market. However, while it has the power to control the direction of organic production, we find that organic agriculture is an underdeveloped initiative of the State. For example, research funding for INIAP is a limiting factor in their investigations. At present, actions speak louder than words for these actors. Next, we explored the middlemen, national and foreign NGOs (CEA, PROBIO, VECO Andino, and SWISSAID) that are working on organic agriculture initiatives. Their missions share common goals to promote organic agriculture. However, national NGOs tend to focus on empowering individual producers and promoting a local agricultural economy, while international NGOs focus on improving the lives of small producers through sustainable methods of agriculture. Strategies for promoting organic agriculture include training and extension, marketing and advocacy of organic production, knowledge creation and sharing through research, and in some cases, consultancy and financing. Advocacy is highly important for pressuring the government to act. These organizations, especially the Ecuadorian NGOs, tend to promote agroecology rather than certified-organic production due to the barriers of certification. 43

62 Many of these organizations represent and receive funding from foreign countries in Europe, including Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. These countries have development agendas for organic agriculture, as evidenced by the participation of foreign development agencies. They also have different views of organic agriculture from their own practices in the Global North, which may not conform to the socio-cultural context of Ecuador. Additionally, as recipients of certified-organic products, foreign entities likely face a conflict of interest: small producer empowerment and certified-organic production with increasing foreign demand do not easily combine. This theme will be explored further in Chapter 6 on international organic markets. In the analysis of actor relations, we saw an interconnected web of actors working at the public and private level, as well as the national and international level. National NGOs like PROBIO and CEA are central nodes in forming this network of actors, despite their limited resources. Foreign actors each have a stake in the process of organic diffusion in Ecuador, and some countries have more of a stake than others. However, MAGAP is the ultimate regulator of organic production, and other countries must be respectful of its bidding. We begin to see a power struggle form between foreign and domestic actors, between the Global North and South. These findings are important because they help us to better understand and trace the process of diffusion of organic agriculture. Major actors have the influence to change the process of diffusion of organic agriculture. As it is practiced today, Ecuadorian organic agriculture can be said to follow two distinct paths: larger-scale certified-organic production for export and smallerscale non-certified agroecology for local consumption (Willer and Kilcher 2009). Larger institutions and organizations appear to be supporting the first path, while smaller organizations and NGOs appear to be promoting the latter. To reconcile these conflicts, these actors must be aware of each other and take advantage of the increasing interconnectedness of the organic agriculture network to come up with a larger agenda for organic agriculture. Is this the whole story? The short answer is a resounding no. So far we have only followed the spread of organic agriculture at the national level. We have yet to follow this process at the regional and local level to the farmers themselves. What are their stories and motivations? While these actors may not have as much of a political voice as those featured in this chapter, they represent an important link in the overall process of diffusion. Chapter 4 moves on to an analysis at the micro-level, focusing on key actors who walk between national entities and local communities. The chapter also explores the case of a small community of farmers who are going through a process of organic agricultural adoption. Their experiences will provide significant complexity to this story and help to flesh out other factors involved in diffusion. 44

63 CHAPTER 4. Spreading the Organic Model: A Case Study of Perucho Farmers One cannot seek knowledge about an innovation until he or she knows it exists - Rogers (1963) Look, we still have to educate the people so that they learn to respect the environment, that they learn to respect land, to not damage water, to not contaminate it. Therefore there is a lot to do in that context, one has to educate but the education has to beginning with small children. From kindergarten so that they learn to love and respect nature and when they are [adult] citizens they continue maintaining that idea in order to change the idea of other people about damaging nature Manuel Suquilanda 114 In the last chapter we explored the spread of organic agriculture in Ecuador on the macro-level through organizations such as governmental institutions and national and international NGOs. While this analysis gives us a framework of the relationships between actors and their initiatives, it is limited as to the depth it can provide us about the process of diffusion of organic agriculture. In order to more fully trace the spread of organic agriculture, we explore the micro-level case study of an organic project in the rural community of Perucho. 115 This case study analyzes the roles of expert actors who disseminate information about organic agriculture and community members who receive this information. It also studies the relationship between these actors and factors that affect the success of this dissemination and adoption process. The first hypothesis states that if actors educated in organic practices are legitimate and capable in the eyes of small farmers and these actors use cultural fit 116 to promote organic agriculture, farmers are more likely to adopt. The second hypothesis states that if there are closeknit social networks within small farmer communities, local farmers will adopt organic practices. The main claims of this chapter are the following: First, influential actors who are viewed by peers as possessing two key characteristics, capability and legitimacy, can persuade small farmers to consider and adopt organic practices. 117 However, while these charismatic figures may be necessary for organic adoption, their work is not always sufficient for sustained adoption and practice of organic agriculture. Second, farmers who are considering adopting organic agriculture have a complex set of values and consider a number of factors in their decisionmaking process. In addition to economic considerations, they also have social, cultural, and environmental concerns about organic farming. One influential factor is the role of social networks, and we will consider how close-knit communities can positively or negatively affect individuals decisions in Perucho. This chapter is organized into two main sections. The first section explores the role and strategies of capable and legitimate actors in the process of spreading organic agriculture. This section 45

64 considers some of the most well-known actors in the diffusion process in Ecuador and then focuses on the specific case of the Perucho community. The second section looks more closely at Perucho and provides an analysis of small farmers in terms of their characteristics, values, and considerations when deciding whether or not to adopt organic agriculture. The conclusion offers a synthesis of these two groups of individuals and places their actions within the context of the overall process of organic agriculture diffusion. Convincing the Audience: The Work of Legitimate and Capable Actors In the last chapter we saw how larger governmental and non-governmental organizations work to spread organic agriculture in Ecuador. In order to connect these larger bodies with small farmers working on the ground, some individuals serve as links between the two. These individuals fill unique roles in Ecuadorian society, serving and representatives and liaisons for organizations, connecting actors to each other, providing valuable expert information about organic agriculture, and often serving as models of organic producers themselves. Three men that I met during my fieldwork are well-known as initiators and leaders of the organic agriculture movement in Ecuador: Manuel Suquilanda, Francisco Pacho Gangotena, and Michael Ayala. 118 One feature that they have in common is a sense of legitimacy and capability that they establish through their work. These features are part of a larger process of cultural-fit that Acharya (2004) describes in cases of transnational diffusion. 119 By legitimacy I mean that they are viewed by others as valid experts that possess a significant amount of knowledge about sustainable agriculture. If one wanted to learn more about organic agriculture, they would seek out these actors for information. By capability, I suggest that these actors exhibit an air of confidence and provide tangible examples of their ability to put their knowledge into action. In this case, they can show others how to grow food organically through hands-on action. These two characteristics help to make them effective leaders because they command respect from other people. They aid these actors to spread organic agriculture. All three pursue their work with intelligence and passion. They establish legitimacy through their impressive academic credentials. Suquilanda is a professor at the Central University, Gangotena received his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Southern Florida, and Ayala is pursuing a Master s Degree in sustainable agriculture in Australia. In addition, these men are closely connected to each other and form a network of actors promoting organic agriculture. Ayala has worked with Suquilanda on scientific projects and all three have worked together to develop organizations like PROBIO and CEA. Although Suquilanda, Gangotena, and Ayala share the same vision to promote and spread organic agriculture in Ecuador, they utilize different strategies to share their message and teach others. Their unique strategies, which help to establish their capabilities as leaders, are described in the following section. Strategies on the Ground Manuel Suquilanda, a consultant specialized in rural development, organic agriculture and sustainable management, currently takes an academic approach to spreading organic agriculture in Ecuador. He is a professor with an M.S. at the faculty of Agricultural Science (Ciencias Agrícolas) at the Universidad Central del Ecuador, a satellite campus in Tumbaco, a town outside of Quito. He teaches courses on sustainable and agroecological agriculture through a combined theory-practice approach. Suquilanda relies on traditional lectures as well as fieldwork on the rural campus that is over a thousand hectares in area. He has also been a part of several seminal scientific studies on organic agriculture in Ecuador. Suquilanda has established a sense 46

65 of legitimacy for himself as one of the foremost experts on organic agriculture in Ecuador by publishing several books, articles, and scientific studies on the topic. In addition, he has written several documents for the government, including for SICA. 120 I visited Suquilanda during my fieldwork and observed his students working in the fields mowing grass, preparing a natural fruit compost, and pulling weeds. Suquilanda pointed out plots of land where several graduate students are completing their thesis work. For example, one project compared different methods of growing a type of onion. Later in the afternoon, I watched a student defend his thesis on the effects of bacteria on bean production in front of several faculty members, including Suquilanda, and peers. In addition to his work as a professor, he is an advisor for several students who are conducting master s theses on agricultural issues. His goal is to teach the next generation of academics, extension agents and policy-makers about the importance of organic agriculture. Indeed, they are the next leaders who can have the most influence on agricultural policy and practice. Francisco Gangotena takes a somewhat different approach to disseminating organic agricultural practices. After starting and working for several organizations that promote organic agriculture, including PROBIO and SWISSAID, Gangotena decided to buy his own farm and grow food organically. He now uses his farm as a model for a well-functioning organic farm. Gangotena encourages farmers and farmer associations from around Ecuador to visit his farm. Farmers spend the day observing activities performed by Gangotena and his local staff and discussing best practices. He believes that if visitors view a beautiful farm, they will want one for themselves and adopt agroecological practices when they return home (Gangotena interview, January 17, 2011). The idea is not to force or actively convince farmers that they should grow organically but rather to impress them with his model of a fertile, natural input farm such that they voluntarily change their practices. Indeed, he has had several thousand visitors on his farm, and he thinks that about a quarter implement his practices, based on later conversations with them. 121 This teaching farm method of disseminating information about organic agriculture has become increasingly popular in Ecuador (Bentley and Paz 2003). Gangotena also helps to organize and contribute to local farmers markets. Every Wednesday and Saturday, fresh produce grown on the farm is transported to and sold at these markets for local communities. This is a strategy to strengthen the local economy by promoting direct relationships and to provide community members with fresh, healthy food. Michael Ayala combines these two approaches of diffusing organic agriculture. In addition to his work as member and current president of the national organic agriculture organization, PROBIO, Michael is an agricultural consultant, program evaluator, and educator. He teaches courses on organic and sustainable agriculture around the country. For example, he taught a short course on integrated pest management at Rio Muchacho Organic Farm in Manabí during my fieldwork. Michael also conducts evaluations of agricultural projects funded by NGOs to determine whether they are feasible and complete their objectives. He has collaborated with many organizations working in Ecuador, including VECO Andino and SWISSAID (see Chapter 3). Michael s other project in the small community of Perucho will be reviewed below. Perucho Organic Agriculture Project One of his current projects includes forming a partnership between PROBIO and the local government and community of Perucho (where Michael grew up as a child) to promote organic 47

66 Table 4.1 Syllabus of Perucho Organic Agriculture Class a Concepts Themes c Practical Activity c I. General Concepts II. Agroecological Technology 1. Ecological vs. Conventional Agriculture Visit an agroecological farm (model) 2. Soil Determine soil characteristics 3. Ecological Crop Management Prepare organic fertilizer 4. Ecological Soil Management/Conservation Practice soil conservation 5. Ecological Pest Management Recognize rural pests/diseases 6. Agroforestry Plant agroforestry systems III. Farm Planning and Conservation of Natural Resources 7. Agroecological Farm Design and Plan Farm Management Communal Natural Resource Management Diagnostic micro watershed a Adapted and reproduced with permission from Michael Ayala (translated into English) b General concepts and themes were taught in the classroom using discussion and whiteboard notes c Practical activities were taught following the theoretical classroom portion in the farm of a class participant agriculture education and adoption. Through an analysis of invitations and announcements posted in the community, I infer that Michael recruited community members to take his course by establishing his legitimacy as an agricultural expert. For example, he used his logo for the Perucho Organic Agriculture Experience (POAE) volunteer program and signed the documents with his title Ingeniero/Engineer (see Figure 4.1 for images of these announcements). Michael and his fellow agricultural experts at the Ministry of Agriculture have taken a two-pronged educational approach to educate Perucho community members about organic agriculture. Each week, they offer free organic agriculture classes to interested participants, starting in the classroom where they learned the theory behind a new concept. This lesson consisted of group discussion as well as written notes on a whiteboard. After the theory portion, participants visit the garden or field of a community member to practice a technique. I attended and observed these weekly classes for two months while I conducted my fieldwork in Perucho. Michael and his colleagues used a discussion-based, participatory approach to teaching in which they tried to connect complex ideas with the lives of the farmers. For instance, they might ask the students to think of the livestock they raise on their farms and what kinds of benefits they provide (such as manure, dairy products, meat, etc.). Michael also explained to me that he uses a mix of Spanish with some Quichua words when he explains concepts in order to set a more personal and familiar tone for his students (in contrast to more formal Spanish that is more educated and potentially isolating to less-educated students). 48

67 Figure 4.1 Announcements Advertising Organic Agriculture Course in Perucho Finally, Michael also encouraged his students to consider traditional practices like using manure for fertilizer and oxen to plow fields as well as their current agricultural practices and what they could do to enhance them through organic agriculture. In this way, he engaged in some degree of cultural fit: he made connections between agricultural practices to show similarities and to more easily convince farmers of the merits of organic agriculture. 122 Table 4.1 shows an outline of the organic agriculture class syllabus. It is clear that this course is meant to be comprehensive and to integrate practical activities with theory. The course starts with basic concepts then covers specific practices and techniques of organic farming, with the goal of guiding students to design their own farm utilizing organic best practices. Students start as learners and graduate as practitioners, ready to design and implement these practices. So far this chapter has explored the strategies and initiatives of key actors who promote organic agriculture in Ecuador. Their projects have been pivotal to the spread of this agricultural practice due to their focus on the ground. An analysis of these actors, however, is not enough to fully explain organic agricultural diffusion because diffusion is not a static, one-way process. We also need to consider the small farmers themselves, especially their values and motivations for wanting to adopt organic agriculture. In addition, specific challenges to implementing organic practices by key actors will be discussed in the next section. An Audience Convinced? : Values, Motivations, and Practices of Small Farmers One of the main puzzles of this study was why small farmers would want to adopt organic agriculture. Are these motivations mainly economic, social, or environmental? This section provides an in-depth analysis of the case study community of small farmers in Perucho from survey questions and more comprehensive interviews of farmer experiences. 49

68 Figure 4.2 Classroom and Fieldwork Activities in Perucho Organic Agriculture Class Values and Motivations of Small Farmers As part of my research I conducted a survey that explored the values of small farmers in Perucho. Although the results are general and represent a small sample size, they provide initial insight into these farmers minds. The survey included questions that probed farmers value of three broad categories: economic values, health and environmental values, and culture and justice values. These categories were based-on and adapted from Julie Guthman s study that included a survey of farmer conversion to organic agriculture in California (2004:195). They were revised for Ecuadorian cultural appropriateness with suggestions by Michael Ayala. Figure 4.4 (see appendix) shows economic values held by Perucho farmers. The values that more farmers found the most important were making enough income and growing products that clients demand, although only about half of all survey participants identified them as very important. The value that farmers found least important (5 identified as neutral or not very important) was lowering production costs. All participants found increasing income and growing demanded products either important or very important. These results are illuminating given that the majority of the population in Perucho relies on agriculture (and government services) for their income (see Chapter 2 for more background). Economic value is therefore, important to these farmers, although perhaps not as relatively important as other values, as we will see. Figure 4.5 (see appendix) shows results for health and environmental values. The value that farmers found most important was protecting the environment (11 said very important and 3 said important). Interestingly, on all seven values in this category, most participants indicated that the values were either important or very important. Only avoiding pesticide use and growing enough for personal consumption were identified as neutral or not very important by at least one participant of the survey. Compared to the economic values, more people found these values very important and important. These results suggest that good health and the environment are highly important to farmers in Perucho. This value was highlighted in conversations with several participants, including Biviana Marcilla, who believes that organic agriculture contributes to both (interview July 15, 2010). These values are consistent with many values of organic agriculture, such as environmental sustainability and healthy, chemical-free food production. 50

69 Values of Farmers Very unimportant Not very important Neutral Important Very important Figure 4.3 Compiled Values among Small Farmers in Perucho Figure 4.6 (see appendix) displays results from questions about culture and justice values. Participants tended to rank these values as important more often than very important, although responses were fairly equal. Interestingly, the only value farmers labeled neutral was using agricultural practices that are just to animals (2 people were neutral). During the interview process, many participants asked me to clarify what I meant by animal justice or looked confused before answering. Michael mentioned to me as we developed the survey that animal justice was a foreign concept. He did not expect many people to find this value important. Finally, Figure 4.3 above compiles all of the previous values to provide a means for comparison. The results suggest the following findings: in general, fewer participants found economic values very important than health and environmental values and culture and justice values. Of all values, protecting the environment and avoiding pesticide use are values that most farmers found very important. It is also interesting to see that very few participants were neutral or found values not very important. Because these values were based on values found to be prevalent among organic farmers in the U.S., the results suggest that small farmers in Perucho have similar, organic agriculture-oriented value systems compared to farmers in the U.S. The finding that these farmers are organically-oriented is supported by Table 4.3, which shows that the majority of farmers surveyed believe that specific organic practices outlined in Table 4.2 are important (11 out of 13 people said that all organic practices were important). Michael also directs the Perucho Organic Agriculture Experience (POAE) volunteer program out of his organic farm in Perucho (see Chapter 2 for more background). Through POAE, he extends his sphere of influence beyond Ecuador to include the international community. Interested people from around the world come to his farm to learn more about organic agriculture through a hands-on approach. Interestingly, this program has had an unforeseen effect on the organic agriculture class for Perucho community members. As Michael describes: 51

70 In 2008 [when] the first volunteers began to arrive, there was a kind of strange reaction on the part of the people that were here, because the people of Perucho thought that agriculture was only practiced by really poor people, by very ignorant people, by people that did not have access to education; they had to stay in the village doing agriculture. But when they saw that people came from the whole world interested in the things that the farmers did here, they began to have many contradictions in their heads, they said, how, rather, what we do, is important. It is something good. It is something that our children could do. And little by little we have seen young people that are interested especially the women who work full-time in the florícolas, now they dedicate a little time to their own gardens. To recuperate those gardens that were abandoned That was in 2008 and now [in] 2010, the people have full consciousness 123 Although the volunteer program and the organic agriculture course were intended to connect when long-term volunteers helped to teach the course, Michael did not realize that the volunteer program by itself would have such a motivational effect on Perucho residents. The fact that people from around the world, including attractive young women, travelled all the way to Perucho gives new meaning to organic agriculture. Community members are indirectly influenced to learn about and eventually adopt organic practices. This motivation is one factor that has driven the initial success of the Perucho organic agriculture course. Practices of Small Farmers In addition to studying the potential values and motivations of small farmers in Perucho, my research also explored specific agricultural practices among these farmers and how they might be affected by the organic agriculture course. This section will discuss some basic findings about agricultural practices and the transition to organic agriculture. The next two chapters will consider potential challenges and barriers to entry that prevent small farmers from adopting organic agriculture or practicing it sustainably in the future. One method for beginning to gauge the transition to organic agriculture in Perucho is to identify and measure implemented practices that are specific to organic agriculture. Table 4.2 lists several organic practices developed by Michael Ayala that are covered in his course. In addition to asking survey participants which practices they thought were important (Table 4.3), I also asked them which practices they had already implemented on their farm. 124 From this table, we can see that only two participants implement all organic practices listed, but only one participant had not implemented any of the practices. Most participants lie somewhere in the middle, implementing some of the practices but not others. The organic practice with the highest number of followers is using compost or organic fertilizer, while the practices with the lowest number of followers are erosion prevention and use of plant preparations for pest control. Although I visited the farms of many participants, it was difficult to confirm that farmers actually implement these practices so they cannot be taken at face value. I did not systematically confirm these practices. Nonetheless, these results suggest that there is a space for this organic agriculture class in Perucho because not all farmers implement all organic practices listed. In addition, it is interesting to compare the practices that farmers consider important (Table 4.3) with the same practices that farmers are implementing (Table 4.2). Although not many farmers implement all organic practices, most of them believe that all the practices are important; they recognize the value of these practices. This finding suggests that farmers in Perucho who attend the organic agriculture class have motivation to adopt organic agriculture more fully. 52

71 Table 4.2 Organic Agricultural Practices Implemented by Farmers in Perucho a Type of Practice Implemented b Number of Farmers c Compost or organic fertilizer (from plants or animal manure) 11 Associations and rotations of crops (mix of products) 6 Erosion prevention (terraces or covering the soil) 4 Adequate water management d 9 Natural barriers for wind protection (trees or bushes) 5 Use of plant preparations to control pests and disease e 4 All of the above organic practices 2 None of the above practices 1 a These practiced were based on the suggestions of Michael Ayala and his organic agriculture class in Perucho b Based on self-reported opinion of the participants (not verified by researcher) c Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants d This option includes any practices that prevent water from damaging the soil e This option includes biol fertilizer, plant macerations (macerados) and plant extracts (garlic, hot peppers, etc.) Table 4.3 Organic Agricultural Practices Perucho Farmers Consider Important a Type of Practice b Farmers Who Consider Important c All of the organic practices in Table 2 11 All organic practices except associations and rotations 1 All organic practices except use of natural pesticides 1 a These practiced were based on the suggestions of Michael Ayala and his organic agriculture class in Perucho b Based on self-reported opinion of the participants (not verified by researcher) c Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants Similarly, Table 4.4 shows the results of asking farmers what type of agriculture they practice. Like Table 4.2, we cannot be sure if each of these participants reported truthfully. Although I provided examples of each agricultural practice, it is possible that participants were also not sure which type of agriculture they practice. However, it is illuminating to see how farmers characterize their practices. The majority of farmers say they practice organic and/or agroecological farming. Two participants explicitly said that they are transitioning from conventional to organic agriculture, so I marked this response as a new separate category. Similarly, one participant said that he practiced both organic and traditional agriculture. This suggests that some view organic and traditional agriculture as similar or at least that it is possible 53

72 Table 4.4 Type of Agriculture Practiced by Farmers in Perucho Type of Agriculture Practiced a Number of Farmers b Organic/Agroecological c 7 Transitioning from conventional to organic d 2 Traditional e 1 Conventional f 1 Organic/Agroecological and Traditional 1 a Based on self-reported opinion of the participants (not verified by researcher) b Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants c Examples of organic/agroecological practices given include not using pesticides and cultivating diverse products d Although this was not a specific choice in the survey, two participants noted that they were in transition between two types of agriculture and therefore did not identify fully with one or the other e Examples of traditional practices given include using agricultural practices of one s family and ancestors f Examples of conventional practices given include use of pesticides and cultivating one product Table 4.5 Stage of Organic Agriculture Adoption by Perucho Farmers Stage of Adoption a Number of Farmers b (%) of Respondents I have adopted organic agriculture 10 83% I am in the process of adoption 1 9% I plan to adopt organic agriculture 1 8% a Based on self-reported opinion of the participants (not verified by researcher) b Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants to simultaneously practice them without violating any agricultural principles of either of them. Overall, the table suggests that farmers in the organic agriculture class view themselves as organic farmers, which is potentially important for the sustainability of organic production in Perucho. If farmers connect organic agriculture with their identity, they are probably more likely to practice organic agriculture in the future because they are invested in it. The only means of tracking the process of transition to organic agriculture in this study is displayed in Table 4.5. Table 4.5 shows the results of asking farmers in which stage in the organic adoption process they think they are. Although these responses are not verified, they show that most farmers in the Perucho organic agriculture class believe they have adopted organic agriculture. Only one person says they are in the process of transitioning to organic agriculture, and one person plans to adopt organic agriculture. These results are in some ways surprising if we define adoption of organic agriculture to mean adopting at least all the practices 54

73 outlined in Table 4.2. We already saw that farmers reported that they had not adopted all organic practices on this list. This inconsistency brings up a good point about the importance of clearly defining organic agriculture and sharing the same definition thereof. Table 4.5 would suggest that farmers adopting organic agriculture through the weekly class have a different definition of organic agriculture than Michael (who helped to develop the practices listed) and his colleagues. Producer Stories To flesh out some of the ideas presented in these tables, I present short vignettes of three members of the organic agriculture class. These stories are based on conversations with these producers and, in one case, a farm visit. Each one provides a different perspective and lifestyle. Fidel Ayala is one of the elders in the organic agriculture class and the president of the organic agriculture association in Perucho. His family has a long history of organic agricultural work in Perucho. 125 Fidel showed me around his small farm, where he grows a number of different crops, both fruits and vegetables. He proudly pointed out several varieties of crops that are new to the region or an experimental species, such as avocado and mandarin orange. He said that he likes to experiment with these crops to see what happens. Fidel participated regularly in the organic classes when I visited and is clearly a leader and mobilizer in the Perucho community. Fidel is a strong believer in the merit of organic agriculture and wants others in the community to adopt its principles. One of the main problems Fidel identified with the project is that the others that do not unite, are not interested One wants to attract them, but no. The people do not want [to adopt organic agriculture] (interview July 7, 2010). 126 People in Perucho tend to rely on others to make something happen, rather than mobilizing together for change. Biviana Marcilla is a member of a mother s club Niños con Esperanza that meets regularly in Perucho (see Chapter 5). She has a small plot of family land (200 meters) where she grows crops for the family without chemicals. She also participates in agricultural activities of the mother s club, including working on a shared plot of land. She is very interested in the ideas of organic agriculture, especially as a method for growing healthy food for her two children and for protecting the planet. The main problem she sees is my country is rich in natural things and poor in ignorance (interview July 15, 2010). While she stays home to take care of her children, she make sure to keep informed about health and environmental issues through television and magazines and teach them to her children. She saves all of these media for future study and showed me several examples during our interview. Biviana found the organic agriculture classes were interesting because they allowed her to dedicate herself to something (July 15, 2010). Enma Garzón works with her husband to tend their crops and livestock, including cows, guinea pigs, rabbits and pigs. Although she attends the organic agriculture classes, she made it clear that she does not produce organically, that they work with quite a bit of chemicals otherwise you do not harvest anything (interview July 9, 2010). In the surveys, she was the one participant who had not adopted any of the organic practices outlined by Michael. Reflecting about the organic agriculture class, Enma said that it is worthwhile to practice organically on a small scale, but it is more difficult and too risky on a larger scale. Her husband grows tomatoes for a market in Quito, and therefore, he cannot afford to take the risk of growing without pesticides. Although her ancestors grew organically, she recognizes that it is more difficult now. However, she wants to have a small garden to her own where she grows food organically as an experiment. 55

74 From these vignettes, we see that Fidel, Bivianna and Enma share an interest or curiosity about organic agriculture to some degree that prompts their participation in the class. They share a desire to experiment with agriculture and to have a goal for they can dedicate themselves and others. Each producer had agriculture as a part of their life prior to the organic agriculture class. Now they are considering or adopting a new form of agriculture, with Fidel and Bivianna taking active measures to incorporate organic principles and practices into their lives and Enma taking a more cautious and skeptical approach to organic agriculture adoption. Because Enma is accustomed to growing food with chemicals while the other producers are not, it may be more difficult for her to shift to a different model without a sense for its success rate. Role of Social Networks A potential issue that appears from these stories is the role of individuals versus social networks. Some people like Fidel are enthusiastic about organic agriculture and want to encourage others to consider it, while others like Enma are unsure and want either physical proof of the success of organic methods from her own experiments or perhaps reassurance that their peers were also attending the class and finding success in order to make the transition. Indeed, 7 out of 14 farmers interviewed mentioned explicitly that they wanted more practice and to see concrete results of organic production (see Chapter 5 Table 5.3). Fidel s comment about the apathy of others in the community alludes to the need for a critical mass of interested people to make widespread adoption of organic agriculture in Perucho a possibility. This condition supports the S-curve model of adoption presented in classical diffusion theory (see the appendix). As a result, it is important to analyze the spread of organic agriculture in Perucho not only on a person-by-person basis, as we have with the vignettes above, but also on a community-wide basis. This frame of analysis is especially important due to the fact that the social networks in Perucho are intimately connected. During my fieldwork, I learned quickly that a few family lines have dominated Perucho's history, including the Bedoya Vacas and Ayalas. Michael Ayala is a descendent of this family lineage, as well as many of his close and distant relatives who still call Perucho their home. In fact, five out of twenty, or one quarter, regular participants in the organic class are related to each other because they have the last name Ayala. These family ties, along with the small town population, are likely to play a role in class participation and retention. While this study could not track all of the relationships and all of the exchanges between people in Perucho, observations made while conducting fieldwork suggest a close-knit social network within Perucho. 127 During the summer of 2010, I observed people relaxing after work in the evening and visiting each other on the street and in the public park. There was clearly a lot of conversation and exchange between neighbors. In addition, Michael made a habit of visiting the local government to broadcast an invitation for Perucho community members to attend the class. Participants would start making the walk down the one main road in the town to the school house where the classes took place. They would stop to talk to neighbors and walk down together. Before each class, people would gather and chat informally. This ritual transformed the class into a very public and social event. Community members who were not in the class mentioned to me that it was class day, and people who were in the class used part of the time to socialize with their friends. Mario Bedoya confirmed this trend, saying that he continued to attend the classes to be social and to reaffirm his membership in the community. In this way, participants likely reinforced each other s attendance by actively traveling and gathering at the classroom. 56

75 Figure 4.7 Organic Agriculture Class Provides a Social Space for the Community This study started after there was already a large group of people attending the classes, so I cannot say how this group of participants was formed. Nonetheless, it is likely that the social network and relationships between people affected their attendance (or lack thereof as we will see in the next section) in the class. For example, Remigio Ayala was a regular student in the course and a strong believer of organic practices. His father, on the other hand, was a farmer who did not understand nor care for organic agriculture. During an informal conversation with him, he remarked that the organic agriculture class was a waste of time and that one cannot grow organically without chemicals without risking losing the harvest to pests and disease. Although Remigio was active in encouraging people to take the class, his father is an elder and vocal about his opinions. He likely influences others opinions of the course and organic agriculture. We have explored how the organic agriculture class has built up due in part to its role as a social space for the community. In the next section, we will consider how social networks and a critical mass of people can also negatively affect the class and the future diffusion of organic agriculture. Challenges of Implementing Organic Practices When I left Perucho in the summer of 2010, the organic adoption project seemed to be successful, built on the enthusiasm of participants in the class. It appeared as though there was strong evidence to support my proposed hypotheses about the role capable and legitimate actors, social networks and limited barriers to entry in the process of diffusion of organic agriculture. This viewpoint changed, however, upon return to Perucho during a second period of fieldwork in January I had the opportunity to visit one of the weekly organic agriculture classes to see the status of the project. The first thing I observed was an extreme drop in attendance at this class. Out of about twenty people who participated in the class during the summer, only about four people came to this class. 128 The majority of those who attended were not members of the Perucho community: Ministry of Agriculture extension agents working in the area, a representative of the Provincial Council, and Michael s wife and sister-in-law. Although I did not have a chance to ask former participants why they had left, Mario Bedoya conjectured that 57

76 many dropped out because they expected to receive resources. When they did not, they lost interested in the project. Michael suggested that different members of the class wanted to take control of the group, and they could not agree on leadership. 129 We can only speculate as to the reasoning, but it is clear that this project lost much support over the course of six months. Coincidentally, it was the final class in the course designed by Michael Ayala, the local government, and the Ministry of Agriculture. This was one of the most important classes to attend because it was both a summary of the course material and a planning meeting to discuss the future of the group of farmers transitioning to organic agriculture (see Chapter 6 for more discussion of this plan). Therefore, this class was in some sense pivotal for moving forward. For this reason, the second thing I noted was a feeling of tension and pressure because only a few people were left in the course, and those remaining needed to make an important decision about whether to seek funding from the government as an association of farmers to pursue alternative certification and eventually to create an agricultural center in Perucho. An underlying tension was the fact that this was Michael s final assignment before leaving the country for a master s program in Australia. During the meeting, Michael explained that he was transferring responsibility to the group of farmers and stepping out of the picture, at least while he pursued his master s degree. This change calls into question Michael s status of legitimacy as the leader and organizer of this project. Mario Bedoya expressed reservations about continuing to invest in the project because Michael is not investing in the project while he is away. To Mario, Michael s departure signifies that he does not put much value in the farmer s association and that he participates when it serves his own purposes. If class participants lose confidence in their leader, they are much less likely to feel motivated about continuing the project. The meeting ended with uncertainty about the status of the project and its support by community members. Beyond the conflicts in this final class, Michael s departure undermines the project because it threatens his sense of capability in the Perucho community. Michael intended for his own farm in Perucho to serve as a model organic farm, especially because it is certified. He realized that he could also use his volunteer program to draw interest about organic agriculture. If other farmers saw Michael and his volunteers working daily in the fields, it would establish more of a connection and sense of equality among them. In addition, his model could not only serve as a learning tool in the class but also a method for reassuring participants that organic agriculture is functional as an agricultural practice. However, during my fieldwork, the volunteer program was unstable. For over a month I was the only volunteer on the farm. Additionally, Michael faced many responsibilities aside from the farm during the summer of 2010, and therefore, the farm did not receive the attention it needed to serve as a model. Several participants wondered about this model and its purpose. While Michael studies in Australia, his farm remains untended, waiting for his return, and the people of Perucho do not have an accessible organic farm model. This questioning endangers the sustainability of the project if people are not willing to pursue new responsibilities. This suggests that social relations and perceptions are an influential factor in the process of diffusion of organic agriculture. If actors lose their legitimacy and capability in the eyes of their peers, they can lose their effective influence to spread an idea or message. In the case of Michael and the Perucho project, Michael s departure may directly affect its future because people and their opinions of each other are powerful motivators of action. 58

77 Conclusions: Legitimate and Capable Actors in the Broader Picture This chapter set out to critically analyze the diffusion process on the community level and the actors who drive this process. It explored key actors who serve as leaders of community projects and intermediaries between these communities and more powerful actors working at the national level. We expected to find that those actors who are viewed as legitimate and capable are the most successful in spreading organic agriculture. The chapter also took a deeper look at the case of Perucho and how and why small farmers decide to adopt organic agriculture. We expected to see that strong social networks had an influential effect on the spread of organic agriculture. The analysis reveals several important findings. First, there are key actors working to promote organic agriculture in Ecuador, including three men that I analyzed in detail. These actors are connected to each other as well as connecting to other actors. Part of their success as promoters comes from a sense of legitimacy and capability that they convey through their higher education training and their experience in the field working with agriculture. Although they all use an educational approach to spread organic agriculture, each has a unique strategy and target audience, whether it is training the next generation of agricultural experts, encouraging farmers throughout Ecuador, or focusing on building an association of organic farmers in a community. Second, small farmers in Perucho are complex individuals with complicated motivations for adopting organic agriculture. An analysis of their values, motivations and practices reveals that although economic factors are important, many farmers transitioning to organic agriculture find health and environmental values more important. Farmers recognize the importance of basic organic practices, although they have not yet implemented them on a wide scale. Nonetheless, they identify themselves as organic farmers, therefore internalizing this new identity. The vignettes of three different small farmers in Perucho reinforce that these farmers are complex and unique individuals who have different reasons for being interested in organic agriculture and serve different roles in the community. Third, social networks play a role in the spread of organic agriculture in the Perucho community. We cannot quantify and analyze the degree of its role. However, the fact that many residents of Perucho are related, including members of the organic agriculture class and the class serves a socializing, public role in the community suggests that farmers in Perucho are influenced by each other. Their views and opinions about organic agriculture and the course may affect how many decide to participate. While the program appeared to be successful in the summer of 2010, it mostly disintegrated by January 2011, when the course ended and participants had to make serious and difficult decisions about the future of the association of small farmers. Several factors can present challenges to the spread of organic agriculture. As we saw in the case of Perucho, while legitimacy and capability can strengthen the work of a key actor, the perspective of others is powerful. An event such as departure from a project can change this view and ultimately challenge the sustainability of the initiative. These findings suggest that while key actors play an important part in the spread of organic agriculture, we see in the case of Perucho that these initiatives can be less sustainable if small farmers invest too much in their leader and do not take self initiative. The next two chapters further explore some of the challenges faced in diffusing organic agriculture. In addition to the role of leaders and social networks, there are other barriers to entry that can either prevent a small farmer from adopting or hinder future practice of organic 59

78 agriculture. The first chapter considers barriers that are more common to all farmers, including access to natural resources and access to information and expert advice. The second chapter analyzes a barrier that is unique to organic farmers: access to the market for organic goods. These chapters will reveal a number of challenges as well as traditional and alternative solutions for overcoming them, including a growing movement to spread another form of sustainable agriculture. 60

79 CHAPTER 5. Putting Ideas into Practice: Barriers to Entry for Organic Farmers Knowledge itself does not make any difference; rather the application of knowledge on the ground is what matters Sawamura (2001) 130 While small producers may learn about organic agriculture and value its practices enough to want to adopt, there is a final piece in the diffusion process that is necessary for final adoption. When small farmers put ideas about organic agriculture into practice, they face several barriers that may hinder or prevent adoption. These barriers may be common to all agriculture or unique to organic agriculture (Padel 2001; Guthman 2004; Jaffee 2007; DeMaster 2009). Three significant barriers to entry discussed in this chapter are: access to land, access to water, and access to information and expert support. I hypothesize that if small farmers can overcome these barriers to entry, they can adopt and help to spread organic agricultural practices. The main claim of this chapter is that small Ecuadorian producers can adopt organic agriculture when they face these barriers and overcome them through either traditional or alternative solutions. The degree to which producers can overcome these barriers, however, is most important for determining the quality and sustainability of the agricultural practices. Independently, small farmers can address barriers to entry to the best of their ability until they reach a point at which they cannot overcome the barrier on their own. The fact that a small farmer can overcome these three barriers at a basic level indicates a necessary condition for the adoption of organic agriculture. However, the quality and sustainability of these adopted practices will be threatened if farmers continue to face these barriers on a more complex level. Therefore, the basic level is not sufficient for successful adoption and continued practice. A farmer must resolve these barriers at a complex level in order to sustainably practice organic agriculture in the future. 131 Because organic agriculture is a unique innovation 132, it often requires producers to invent alternative solutions from those employed by conventional farmers. This often means collaboration between actors to overcome these barriers. While a small farmer may be able to resolve barriers at a basic level, he or she is likely to need the support of experts or the collective influence of additional farmers to fully overcome said barriers. The relationship between different actors can determine to what extent the barrier is addressed and subsequently to what extent the farmer will have future success with organic production. In order to explore these concepts of barriers to entry, basic and complex resolution, and traditional versus alternative solutions, this chapter is divided into three main sections. The first 61

80 two parts of this chapter will consist of an analysis of the barrier of access to natural resources and how farmers face these barriers. Part one will explore access to land, and part two will explore access to water. The third part consists of an analysis of the barrier of access to information and expert support. The conclusion of this chapter brings the analysis of these three barriers together with concluding remarks about the final step in the diffusion process and policy recommendations. Access to Natural Resources: Land and Water Access to land and water are two essential natural resources for agricultural production in general; without these two resources, crops cannot physically grow. These requirements exist for organic, conventional and other agricultural practices. Perucho s farmers must have access to a basic level of land and water in order to have the capacity to transition to organic agriculture. In addition, much of Perucho s local economy is based in agriculture, with most residents working in some form of agriculture as their main source of income 133. Therefore, access to land is important for supporting the farmers livelihoods. These farmers can obtain land and water to some extent, often because they have had previous access to these natural resources while pursuing other forms of agriculture; land and water may not always represent barriers to entry. However, the amount of land and water available to farmers in Perucho can increase or decrease due to a number of factors including: (1) ownership of land and control of water access, (2) prices of land and equipment to gather water, and (3) natural forces like weather and climate. To gain or maintain adequate land and water, farmers must confront these barriers; however, they tend to be limited in what they can claim as individuals. In many cases, in order to resolve these barriers, farmers in Perucho need to collaborate as a community or seek help from actors with more influence. While prices and ownership may be resolved with additional support, farmers have no control over natural forces. Access to Land The small farmers of Perucho need access to land to grow their products, whether they are vegetable crops or livestock. Tables 1 and 2 indicate several characteristics of land cultivated by these farmers. The majority of farmers cultivate on small plots of land that are less than 5 hectares in area. A large portion of these plots are significantly small, less than half a hectare. I saw evidence of this fact while in Perucho, with many farmers working on small plots squeezed within the confines of the town s tiny area of 9.73 square kilometers 134. Farmers staked out plots in all available spaces, including flat land in town and sloped plots on nearly mountainsides. Most of the farmers surveyed own the land that they cultivate, and this land tends to have been cultivated only recently (by the participant and perhaps his or her parents). These results indicate that while land ownership does not serve as a significant barrier to these farmers, the amount of land that they can access for cultivation is limited and represents a limiting factor for production of organic crops. If these farmers want to sell their produce in organic markets, they are limited by the volume of crops they can produce through small-scale production. Implications of this limiting factor will be discussed more fully in the following chapter on the barrier of access to organic markets. In addition, these results suggest that these farmers (and in some cases their parents) are relatively newer participants in agriculture, at least on the plots of land currently cultivated. These results are consistent with Ecuador s agricultural history, in which agricultural land up to the 1970s was controlled by a few wealthy owners of 62

81 Table 5.1 Hectares of Cultivated Land of Perucho Farmers Number of Hectares a Cultivated Number of Farmers b (%) of Respondents hectares 5 38% hectare 1 8% 1 2 hectares 3 23% 2 5 hectares 3 23% More than 5 hectares 1 c 8% a 1 hectare = 2.47 acres b Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants c This farmer owned about 6 hectares, indicating that all farmers surveyed represented poor to middle-class farmers with small plots of land. None of these participants were owners of haciendas or flower plantations. Table 5.2 Characteristics of Land Cultivated by Perucho Farmers Relationship to Land Number of Farmers a Own the Land 10 Rent the Land 2 Number of Generations b Cultivating Land Number of Farmers One generation 6 Two generations 5 Three generations 1 a Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants (one participant does not have access to land) b One generation indicates cultivation by participant; Two generations indicates cultivation also by parents; Three generations indicates cultivation also by grandparents haciendas, large plantations of land 135. Only in the past few decades have more farmers been able to access small parcels of land with which to partake in small-scale agriculture. However, this new access to land is challenged by the growing presence of flower plantations (florícolas) that have more recently acquired large parcels of land as well as labor for flower production. Remigio Ayala describes the transformation that occurred when florícolas arrived: There was another flower plantation here in Yadela, a flower plantation that produced only flowers there already many people worked there, about 100. Then later 300 people worked therefore the flower plantations came to really change the economy of the people

82 The implications of the rise of florícolas are twofold. First, these florícolas require large numbers of workers, and in small communities comprised of a couple hundred people like Perucho 137, the appearance of these plantations draw in much of the local labor supply 138. As a result, community members shift their careers to plantation work and have less time to devote to organic agriculture. Second, these plantations require large amounts of land to meet the demand for flowers. This demand is typically for export, with consumers primarily in the Global North. While riding a bus from Perucho, I observed a nearby flower plantation that took several minutes to pass from end to end. In some cases, these plantations are remnants of older haciendas. Regardless of their origins, the florícolas limit the opportunities to adopt organic agriculture by restricting the amount of land available for small-scale farmers and consuming labor hours. These plantations are typically owned by wealthy, often foreign, individuals. Remigio s wife Sara León describes the American owner of a nearby florícola: Peter Uldreck is the last name a resident of the United States he has a flower auctioneer. All the flower that go there are very immense. He has here nine enterprises, here in the country in many countries he has plantations Powerful 139 As Sara illuminates, this plantation owner has a lot of influence in addition to the wealth we can infer he makes from the sheer scale of his operations. While Sara may be exaggerating in her description, it is clear that Mr. Uldreck is a powerful man who controls much of the land and labor in the area. Therefore, it is not likely that small farmers in Perucho can stand up against florícola owners like Mr. Uldreck and demand more land for their own agricultural production. They would need the support of more influential actors, such as government officials. This partnership is not likely given political (and foreign) interests of the government, resulting in limited land for small farmers, and thus, organic production. 140 In addition to politics and power issues, access to land is also a question of economics. Land is relatively expensive in Ecuador, even if it is not very fertile. According to Mario Bedoya, land value in and around Perucho is based on factors like communication and other services available, such as irrigation water. 141 In general, a hectare of land costs from $10,000 to $25,000 USD. 142 This is a significant amount of money for a farmer who survives on a subsistence income from agriculture and other part-time jobs. The economic constraint can become a catch-22 for a producer who could potential make more money if she had more land to increase production. However, the small income from the small piece of land prevents the producer from saving sufficient money to buy additional land. Both the political and the economic factors can severely limit the amount of land a producer has at his disposal. As a result, we see producers in the Perucho class with fractions of hectares or less than 5 hectares (see Table 5.1). Luckily, a majority of the farmers interviewed in Perucho have access to and own at least some land. They can produce some agricultural products and, therefore, adopt organic agriculture, even if the scale of their production is constrained by the availability of land. However, some farmers cannot access land. Margarita Ayala, an elderly woman in Perucho, participates in the weekly organic classes, however, she and her husband are retired and she does not have access to land where she can directly practice what she learned. Instead, she resorts to indirect practice in a neighbor s field during the class practical section. For Margarita, lack of access remains a barrier to adopting organic agricultural practices. 64

83 Farmers without this fortune have to find creative solutions to practice what they have learned in the weekly organic agriculture classes. Adriana Ayala described how she works on her father s land and teaches him the practices she learns in the organic agriculture class. This solution has at least three potential benefits: Adriana can adopt organic agriculture now that she has access to land, Adriana reinforces what she learns in class by carrying out the practices herself, and Adriana can potentially pass on the practices to her father to spread organic agriculture even further within the Perucho community. Alternative Solution: A Mother s Organization Several women in the community, such as Mariana Torres and Marcela Gómez, also do not own land with which to cultivate organic produce. However, these women have come up with a unique strategy for overcoming this barrier. They are part of a community organization called Niños con Esperanza (Children with Hope) that strives to help mothers to raise their children. The group in Perucho represents a chapter of the larger organization that receives materials from the organization FONAP (Federación de Organizaciones por la Niñez y Adolescencia de Pichincha). FONAP is an organization funded by ChildFund that strives to reduce unequal access to public services and to promote the wellbeing of families. 143 To resolve the issue of access to land, the women who are members of this organization and participants in the organic agriculture class use Niños con Esperanza as a vehicle for their learning. They have a unique solution: a plot of land behind the houses of members Mariana Torres and Irma Quishpe shared among the women in the group. The group also offers this plot as a model for other class participants to use during the practical section of the course. During the Tuesday classes, our class would frequently visit this communal plot to learn how to plant seeds, pull weeds, and other practical skills. This arrangement allows many women to have access to land at the same time, as well as the ability to share information and responsibilities as they learn together about organic agricultural practices. While it remains unclear if FONAP directly or indirectly funds the women s access to this land, this solution circumvents problems of high land price and ownership of land by powerful actors. Each woman can now directly practice what she learns in the organic agriculture classes, and together, they can reinforce each others learning. Because this group is small, less than fifteen women, they can share control and organize themselves more successfully because they have the group s interest at heart. The power of the collective is evident in this example, and it helps each woman to do more than what she could accomplish as an individual. Another Land Problem: Soil Fertility Although many farmers in Perucho have found ways to access land for organic agriculture, both individually or collectively, these represent solutions within the direct control of people. Some land issues are more difficult to resolve than land price and ownership because they are connected to natural forces. Soil fertility is one of these issues. While a farmer may have access to a plot of land, there is no guarantee that this plot has the soil fertility sufficient to grow thriving crops. Indeed, interviews with farmers in Perucho suggest that soil quality has degraded over time to the point where crop quality and yields are not what they were in the past. Remigio Ayala views the degradation of the soil as a serious problem for agricultural production: 65

84 The avocado here is not producing fruit because the land is sick. It dies; it gets sick because of the land that has pests. The root sickens and the tree dies. The avocado does not resist much here In Atahualpa the trees are very good, they do not die Here they do not endure, here they sicken quickly 144 Remigio s example of the poor harvest of the avocado illuminates a larger problem that is affecting many crops in the community. Much of this degradation can be attributed to the depletion of nutrients from conventional farming in the area. As Manuel Suquilanda explains: We in Ecuador have the lowest productivity of all of Latin America because of the poor use of chemicals [in conventional agriculture]. 145 Due to a legacy of conventional practices promoted by the Green Revolution, modern farmers in Perucho are to some degree victims of their past. Infertile soil has been produced by the activity of human beings, but it is ultimately governed by natural forces. Whatever type of agriculture they decide to practice, these farmers are likely to face failure in their harvests before they have success. Fortunately, fertile soil is essential for the health and sustainability of organic produce and is in fact part of the overall goal of organic agriculture as an agricultural system. 146 Therefore, farmers who practice organic agriculture have the potential to reinvigorate the soil as they produce. However, this process requires a long period of time. 147 Farmers may be able to adopt organic agriculture initially, but they may have to abandon the practice if the soil remains infertile and prevents a successful harvest. The risk of failure is especially high when these farmers rely on agriculture for their subsistence incomes. 148 Consequently, many of these farmers literally cannot afford to wait for changes in soil fertility to improve their chances of success. The barrier to entry is literally out of their hands. It is yet to be seen what will happen to these farmers who attempt to adopt organic agriculture on infertile soil. Access to Water Like the fertility of land, access to water is also necessary for organic agriculture, as well as other forms of agriculture. A sufficient amount helps to ensure that crops grow successfully. However, water is a limited natural resource that can disappear if overused. When a farmer faces little to no water, his chances of growing a complete harvest diminish. For many farmers in Perucho, access to water has increasingly become a significant problem. Many factors could be at play to affect the change in the quantity of water available to these farmers, including climate change, a change in water ownership, and a change in the number of water users. While we can speculate about which factors are present in this situation, interviews with farmers in Perucho suggest that competition among water users is a factor. Fidel Ayala describes how access to water is now difficult due to the presence of haciendas: [U]ntil [the haciendas] arrived, [we drew] a quantity, some 50 or 60 liters a second Then we also drew water some 20 or 30 liters per second. Now we do not The haciendas already took their part of the water. But they irrigate only with sprinklers They do not wet the land now with that that they did with sprinklers they dried out our water. They dried out our springs. We have, I tell you some 4 or 5 liters per second. From the 20 liters that we had Because we really do not have water. Because if we had water we would irrigate every 8 days. Because there is no water we irrigate every 5 days 149 Fidel believes that competition between small farmers in Perucho and nearby haciendas has diminished the amount of water available to his peers in the community. 150 While in the past 66

85 Figure 5.1 Typical Piece of Agricultural Land in Perucho Facing Water and Fertility Issues farmers in Perucho had more water available, now they have less and less. This change is perhaps due to the fact that the haciendas have changed their irrigation practices to sprinkler systems. He believes these systems are inefficient and require more water because they do not wet the ground. The result is that Perucho farmers have less water and are forced to irrigate more frequently to prevent crops from drying up. They want more water to ensure a good harvest. Lack of access to water represents another barrier to practicing organic agriculture. While I volunteered at Perucho Organic Farm, I learned that farmers in Perucho share water left over from the haciendas in an irrigation rotation schedule. Every two weeks, Michael Ayala is allotted a window of a couple hours starting at midnight to irrigate his garden. Usually, this time period is not enough to water all his crops, and apart from this period, Michael cannot afford to use more water to irrigate. 151 As a result, many of the crops I planted when I arrived quickly dried up in the hot sun. For many in Perucho, this issue means that farmers cannot even continue the form of agriculture they presently practice. The consequences are grave. As Sara described, many farmers have left Perucho for the city to look for new livelihoods because they cannot pursue agriculture. One loses, 152 she explains. Mass emigration has serious consequences for a small community like Perucho, which can only hinder efforts of local leaders to promote and spread organic agriculture. If farmers cannot produce under their current agricultural practices, they do not have much incentive to adopt a new practice without confidence of its success rate. Potential Solution: Alternative Water Supplies Like the land-consuming florícolas, it appears that access to water is largely controlled by influential haciendas. 153 It is difficult for small farmers in Perucho to gain more control of the limited water supply because they do not have much power themselves. One of the only potential solutions to this problem is for farmers in Perucho to pursue alternative supplies of water. In many cases, these water supplies require new equipment. Fidel describes his attempt to create an alternative supply: 67

86 Yes, I have a water [system] installed but it needs a tank. To put water in the tank and irrígate with a sprinkler, then the water does not run out Or to drizzle [water] using hoses is much better, but that costs money. Here it is installed but it is missing the tank. Because the tank I have there is too small 154 Remigio also describes his water dilemma: What we lack is more water Here it would be good [to have] an irrigation channel for the area the [current] channel is very dry, no one cleans it well but it is not for everyone, it is for the haciendas 155 Both alternatives that Fidel and Remigio suggest require equipment that they do not have, for Fidel, a larger tank or hose, and for Remigio, a communal irrigation channel. These solutions would allow each farmer to increase their access to water by storing more water, in the case of Fidel, and bypassing the current channel shared by haciendas with a new one, in Remigio s case. However, these pieces of equipment are costly, and thus not easily accessible to small farmers. The local government of Perucho plans to create a new irrigation channel, as Remigio proposes. But the estimated cost of this project is $2 million USD, which will require funding by many parties, including the municipality of Quito and NGOs. 156 Even the support of the local government is not sufficient to provide the supplies for a better water system. Outside actors must collaborate with Perucho to make the irrigation channel a reality. So far we have considered barriers that affect all farmers, namely access to natural resources such as land and water. We saw how many farmers in Perucho can access these resources in a basic level because they have already been practicing agriculture in some capacity. For those who do have access, this access tends to exist at a basic level: small plots of land and a minimum supply of water. However, limited access does not support sustainable agricultural practices. For those without access, these individuals must often collaborate with others to face these barriers to entry. Solutions to these problems can be traditional, such as an irrigation channel project, or alternative, such as a plot of land shared by a mother s group. We now turn to another barrier that is more relevant to organic agriculture: access to information and expert support. To some extent, all farmers need advice and support from others to solve their agricultural dilemmas. However, given the software-based nature of organic agriculture, access to information specific to organics is highly important for farmers who want to adopt and practice organic agriculture. The implications of this requirement and potential solutions for this barrier are discussed below. Access to Information and Expert Support While access to land and water is a barrier that affects all farmers organic, conventional, and otherwise other barriers to entry are unique to organic agriculture. Due to the unique, softwarebased nature of organic agriculture as an innovation, access to information about how to practice organically is essential for farmers to adopt these practices. In addition, farmers often need support from agricultural experts as they are transitioning to organic agriculture, in order to ensure themselves that they are practicing correctly and to ask experts questions about problems they face. As discussed in the introduction, early in the history of the U.S. organic movement, early adopters formed small networks that initially limited access to information by outsiders and caused the practices to spread slowly (Padel 2001; Guthman 2004). As organic agriculture begins to spread in Ecuador, we might predict a similar phenomenon to occur with small farmers. If farmers cannot access this critical information, they are less likely to adopt organics. 68

87 Evidence about the presence of this barrier and solutions to overcome it are uneven and inconclusive at this point. Manuel Suquilanda, considered by many to be the foremost expert on organic agriculture in the country, believes that a growing number of resources are available to those who want to learn about organic agriculture. As Suquilanda asserts: There are schools of agriculture that one can begin to work in this Now there is a lot of influx of farmers in university, we have open university facilities, university at a distance then people begin to work here as well, to educate themselves to capacitate themselves. It is very different from what occurred 25, 30 years ago. Now we have the indigenous that are in congress, that are being part of history, participating. Thus, yes, there is a good opening for them 157 In Suquilanda s opinion, new opportunities are opening up to learn about organic agriculture in university, and more people from the country are taking advantage of this fact. This influx of learning is related to increased spaces for participation by civil society, including indigenous groups who historically have been discriminated from serving in politics. Suquilanda s comment seems to suggest that new openings for education are reducing or eliminating the access to information barrier. In some sense, this trend may be true, at least for part of the population. I visited Suquilanda on the extension campus of Universidad Central de Ecuador in Tumbaco where he teaches classes on organic agriculture to young men and women interested in careers in agriculture. These classes combine theory in the classroom with practice in the acres of fields on campus property. I observed students learning about natural fertilizers through a hands-on activity fermenting fruit scraps. These lessons give young people the skills they need to become farmers or extension agents when they graduate. On the other hand, one could argue that only some demographics of the population can access these resources, regardless of how many more opportunities are opening up. These universities are often located in city such as Quito, far away from the countryside where the majority of farmers work their land. In addition, the tuition to attend these classes may not be accessible to farmers who struggle to make a basic income and feed their families. Fortunately for farmers in Perucho, weekly classes on organic agriculture are offered free of charge to those who are interested. Although I did not ask project participants in Perucho directly about their ability to attend the organic agriculture classes or to meet with agricultural technicians, many of these participants shared this kind of information freely. The results of these comments are shown in Table 3. Thus, although I cannot give a definitive number of people who experienced these issues in my sample, the fact that farmers volunteered this information without prompting suggests that these issues are indeed significant and affect several farmers in the community. The presence of these barriers was evident during my fieldwork in the community. For example, one practical session of the organic agriculture class covered the preparation of an organic fertilizer called biol". This pesticide consisted of a concoction of chopped greens, chili peppers, alcohol, molasses and other natural ingredients that were collected in an air-tight container to ferment for several weeks before use. The preparation of biol" was complicated and required several people working for over an hour to concoct it. After the session, several farmers mentioned during interviews that they wanted to make and use biol", but they did not remember the steps and did not have it written down. They lacked access to information that prevented them from adopting the practice and asked me if I could request recipes from the instructors

88 Figure 5.2 Michael Ayala (center) Preparing Biol with Organic Agriculture Class A second issue that participants mentioned was their desire to see concrete results that organic agriculture worked before they adopted the practice themselves. Enma, whose husband practiced mostly conventional agriculture with chemical pesticides, described how she attended the organic agriculture classes weekly, but she maintained reservations about the effectiveness of organic practices. She expressed concern that one needed to use chemicals to prevent plagues and infestations, and if one did not as organic agriculture proscribed he would lose his entire crop to insects. She stated that she had not yet adopted organic practices because she wanted to see proof that organic agriculture would result in a successful harvest. Because of its lack of inputs, organic agriculture represents a fundamental risk for new farmers (Lockie et al. 2006). One way to lower the perceived risk of adoption is to display a model of successful organic farming. Michael and other instructors of the class attempted to provide this model by including a section of the class that focused on practical skills. The intent was for farmers to work on community plots and see their actions result in crops at the end of the growing season. The key ingredients in this strategy, however, are time and consistency. Participants needed to be patient and to work on a consistent plot of land in order to see proof of the potential of organic agriculture. However, the practical session often moved from one plot to another. The risk here was that farmers would become impatient and discouraged if they did not see results right away, stop attending the classes, and ultimately not adopt organic agriculture. A final issue that participants mentioned during interviews was that they had specific problems with their farming and desired support from agricultural technicians to solve the problem. These problems often included plagues of some kind of insect or disease that caused their crops to shrivel and rot. Participants often told me that they wanted the local extension agents, such as Michael Ayala and Vinicio Ayala, to visit their plots and help them figure out why their crops were failing. For example, Fidel Ayala explained how he would like to install a larger water tank to increase his water supply, however, he does not have the technical knowledge to complete the task himself; he wants an export, like Vinicio, to help him

89 Table 5.3 Barrier of Access to Information and Support Specific Issue Number of Farmers a Cannot always attend organic agriculture class 2 Want class summary to review information b 2 Want more information about organic pesticides c 7 Want help with specific agricultural problems 3 Want more practice/to see concrete results d 7 a Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants b Class participants receive a summary packet during course graduation c Specifically wanted information about an organic fertilizer called biol" d Weekly class is structured with about 1.5 hours of practice in a model plot One of the challenges these experts face, however, is a lack of time to serve as regular aids to local farmers. Vinicio describes this dilemma: It s lamentable worthless. And it should be valuable. But I cannot say no. They are people that I am helping personally. But I have limited time. Sometimes until they get angry because I do not come. Because it is something that I am doing, something social. Helping. It is with pleasure, I do it with pleasure, but I cannot at times continue because sometimes there is no time, I have to go to the other side where they pay me because I live off of that. Here I am working for free the whole world pays me with a smile 160 These technicians are members of the community, and they do not get paid for their services, perhaps because their work is viewed as a family obligation or because farmers in Perucho do not have extra funds to pay them for their work. Therefore, they face an opportunity cost for their advice because they could be working for an income to support their families. At the same time, farmers making the transition to organic agriculture need the support to ensure that they are starting out correctly during the initial, critical period (Lockie et al. 2006). Without this support, they may run into problems like the plagues many farmers mentioned experiencing, become discouraged, and revert to their previous agricultural practices; they risk losing the potential to become more self-sufficient and instead rely on others to solve their problems or give up. Potential Solution: Government-Funded Extension Agents While it is not easy to overcome this barrier without help, I did witness a potential solution to the problem of technical support. At the end of my fieldwork, three young women who recently graduated from a university agricultural program visited the organic agriculture class and announced that they worked for MAGAP. They had been assigned by the ministry to each work in a town in the region, one of which is Perucho. They would assist the instructors in the organic agriculture classes and be available during the day to meet with farmers and talk about their agricultural problems. For example, the extension workers planned to use the knowledge they had just acquired from their degree to investigate the cause of the mysterious plague that was affecting the mandarin orange crop of many local farmers. 71

90 While I did not have a chance to observe these women in action before I left Ecuador, the intent was for these women to fill the gap of expert advice through their paid positions. In this case, the government of Ecuador had to step in to provide a potential solution that would lower the barrier of access to information for small farmers. With this support, perhaps more farmers will feel confident in adopting and successfully becoming independent organic producers. Therefore, a potential recommendation for Ecuador is to develop a program to facilitate the work of recentlytrained agricultural experts in the countryside to aid small farmers who want to adopt organic agriculture. To incentive this kind of work, the Ministry of Agriculture could create an internship program with a stipend to pay graduates of agricultural programs for a year or two of work in rural agricultural areas of Ecuador. This kind of program solves the expert bind and is potentially beneficial to all parties involved: the Ministry of Agriculture is funding the promotion of a sustainable agricultural practice, graduate technicians have an opportunity to put their learning into practice, and small farmers receive support from experts at no cost. Potential Solution: Exploiting Additional Sources of Information In addition to the support of organic agriculture experts, farmers in Perucho could benefit from additional sources of information on organic practices. Part of my survey asked farmers to identify the sources of their information about organic agriculture. Table 4 above shows the results of this question. The majority of farmers stated that they receive their information from community programs, particularly the weekly organic agriculture class. The fact that all participants in this study attend the classes is evidence to support this trend. About half of these farmers also learn about organic agriculture from family members and the media, respectively. Books on organic agriculture and information from neighbors were surprisingly less utilized by small farmers adopting organic agriculture. These results suggest that community programs are one of the most effective methods for communicating ideas about organic agriculture. Actors who work to spread these practices, such as Michael Ayala, could supplement the flow of information by exploiting additional sources like the media. As the current president of the NGO PROBIO, Michael could collaborate with government officials and other actors to increase media coverage of organic agriculture through a national campaign. While some medias sources like television may not be accessible to all farmers in Perucho, some, like radio and newspapers, are likely to be accessible to most. If farmers can supplement what they learn in the weekly class with other sources, they are more likely to retain and potentially share what they learn with others in the community. Additional sources of information about organic practices can increase the agency of small farmers by reducing their reliance on experts to provide technical advice for their agricultural problems. For example, the mother s group, Niños con Esperanza, received pamphlets and materials on organic agriculture from FONAP, which they used to study and reinforce their learning (see Figure 5.3). Conclusions: Confronting Common Barriers This chapter set out to analyze a final step in the diffusion process: resolving barriers to entry. While small farmers in Perucho may want to adopt organic agricultural practices, barriers may be present that prevent them from adopting or from continuing to practice successfully. In this chapter, we explored barriers that may hinder organic farmers, as well as other farmers. These barriers include access to natural resources (land and water) and access to information and expert support. The hypothesis was that if local farmers do not face barriers to entry, or they can overcome these barriers, they will adopt organic agriculture and the practices will spread. 72

91 Table 5.4 Sources of Information about Organic Agriculture Source of Information a Number of Farmers b Family members 6 Neighbors in the community 4 Community programs (organic agriculture class) 12 Media (television, radio, newspaper) 6 Books and printed resources 5 a Participants could choose as many responses as were appropriate b Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants Figure 5.3 Additional Sources of Information on Organic Agriculture Used by Class Participants 161 An examination of the findings in this chapter reveals several patterns. First, farmers may have previous access to land or water because they were farmers prior to the introduction of organic agriculture. However, their limited access to these natural resources hinders their current production and reduces the rate with which they will find success with organic agricultural practices. While they may adopt organic practices initially, they may also abandon organics if they cannot continue to practice sustainably. 162 In many cases, these farmers are at the mercy of natural forces, like climate change, or problems of the past, like soil infertility, which humans collectively cannot control. Second, potential solutions to scarce natural resources and access to information are often out of the direct control of these small farmers because of power struggles. As we saw, natural resources can be directly or indirectly controlled by more powerful actors, such as owners of nearby haciendas and flower plantations. These farmers must organize into a collective group or join forces with more influential actors, such as NGO leaders or extension 73

92 agents at the Ministry of Agriculture, in order to more effectively address these barriers. If a conflict of interest arises between actors, these barriers may remain barriers unless farmers can create an alternative solution that circumvents the power dynamic. Third, the barrier of access to information and expert support is a barrier that is more unique to organic agriculture because of organic agriculture s software-based nature. While other types of farmers also need advice and support, without the use of inputs and much machinery, organic farmers without access to information are at a real disadvantage. In Perucho, we saw that the majority of the farmers rely on the weekly organic agriculture classes as their main source of information. If organic agricultural experts can increase the flow of information, small farmers will have more opportunities to learn about and reinforce their learning. Two strategies to employ are training programs for recently-graduated extension agents or a national campaign to increase media coverage of organic agriculture. These findings are important because the neoclassical economic or classical diffusion approaches for analyzing the spread of organic practices do not take barriers to entry into account. Barriers to entry include factors that are not economically-based, such as the role of natural forces. Classical diffusion suggests that innovation recipients simply adopt innovation passively, without facing barriers that might hinder adoption. This analysis of barriers to entry suggests that the diffusion-adoption process is more complicated. To increase the spread of organic agricultural practices, it is important to identify potential barriers and to consider solutions to help farmers overcome them. The limited influence and potentially low incomes of small farmers must also be acknowledged. While small farmers in Perucho may be able to act independently to some extent, they are likely to meet more success in collaboration with others. While we have considered barriers that are more general to all farmers in this chapter, in the next chapter, we consider a fourth barrier to entry that is unique to organic agriculture: access to the organic produce market. This barrier is distinct to organic agriculture due to the niche market for organic goods that carry price premiums and the organic-certification process required for formal identification as an organic product. While small farmers who adopt organic practices can physically produce crops organically without overcoming this barrier, they are limited to smallscale production and sale of their goods. Chapter Six will explore how small farmers face and overcome this special barrier as they attempt to expand their access to larger organic markets. 74

93 CHAPTER 6. Access to the Organic Market: To Certify or Not to Certify? On the other hand, for organic production sent to a specialized market, certification is essential. It is certain that certification adds value to the product, but also increases costs and limits crop management alternatives to maintain the farm within international norms that do not necessarily mesh with the characteristics of each agro-ecosystem, nor to the diversity of socio-cultural conditions of our communities - Rodríguez, Rovayo and Flores (2007) 163 So far we have explored barriers to entry that are common to farmers, including access to natural resources and access to information and expert support. In addition to these common barriers, there are barriers that are more unique to organic agriculture. A third barrier to entry that will be explored here is access to markets for organic produce 164. As I hypothesized in Chapter 1, organic agriculture adoption results from neoclassical economics. More specifically, as trade liberalization increases between Ecuador and the Global North, demand for organic products increases, resulting in increased organic agriculture. This chapter also explores my alternative hypothesis for explaining the spread of organic agriculture: endogenous adoption. It states that Ecuadorian agriculture is not sufficiently affected by outside conditions. Instead, Ecuadorian organic agriculture has mirrored the U.S. organic movement. Specifically, as a local organic philosophy and incentives for organic products increase, organic practices will diffuse through local farmers. This hypothesis suggests a social movement, with an environmental identity and recognition of traditional agriculture, as the main mechanism for the diffusion of organic agriculture. In the case of Ecuador, I would expect to find a network of organic practices similar to that of the U.S. within the framework of local agricultural practices. Does an endogenous organic agriculture movement exist in Ecuador? Once farmers adopt organic practices and begin to farm organically, they may wish to sell their organically-produced goods. Their practices may or may not be sustained, depending on whether they can sell these goods in a market. While there are philosophical and ecological reasons why farmers want to adopt organic practices, as we have seen in Chapter 4, farmers need to make an income. Therefore, there is also an economic incentive involved in adoption, especially given the potential to access organic price premiums. As stated in Chapter 5, if there are limited barriers to entry, including access to the organic market, small farmers are more likely to adopt organic agriculture. 75

94 Figure 6.1 Labels Used by Producers: Certification Label of Ecuadorian Organic NGO PROBIO (left), German Certifier Organic Label (middle), Label for Ecuadorian Producers (right) 165 The main claims of this chapter are two-fold: First, small Ecuadorian producers can sustain their practice of organic agriculture if they face this unique certification barrier through either traditional or alternative solutions. Farmers who cannot find a way to access conventional or alternative organic markets are less likely to continue their practices in the future. Second, Ecuadorian organic agriculture has not been endogenously adopted in most cases. Instead, it has been affected by outside actors, including international NGOs and international organic markets. On the other hand, a growing agroecological movement within Ecuador can be said to have more endogenous origins due to its local focus. More and more small farmers in Ecuador are rejecting organic certification and focusing on growing sustainably for local markets. Overall, the response to organic certification is a major factor in determining whether small producers will follow two increasingly divergent paths: certified-organic production for export or non-certified organic/agroecological production for local consumption. This chapter is organized into two main sections. The first section explores the barrier of access to organic markets, the implications of organic certification, and traditional and alternative solutions pursued by small farmers. The second section analyzes the existence of the endogenous adoption hypothesis and the growing agroecological movement within Ecuador. The conclusion discusses the relationship between these two trends and implications of this relationship. The Organic Certification Debate Once small farmers adopt organic agriculture and begin to produce organic produce, the next natural step is to sell these products for income. These farmers may choose to differentiate their products by selling them in an organic market. An incentive to sell in an organic market is to access and capture organic price premiums. These premiums indicate a price over conventional substitutes and thus a potential increase in income for the producer. While premium values vary, in some cases, they can be significant. According to a 2007 study conducted by the German NGO GTZ, some Ecuadorian certified-organic produce carried a premium, including lettuce with an 8 percent premium and coffee with a 170 percent premium (Willer and Kilcher 2009). 166 In a country in which produce does not fetch a high price, organic price premiums can be a powerful incentive for farmers because they make agriculture a more profitable and stable livelihood. 167 In addition, once a farmer becomes certified, his or her production costs are often much lower than their conventional counterparts who buy expensive inputs. 168 However, there are still risks involved. Because the overall organic market is still small, it is vulnerable to producer entrance and exit and therefore represents a fundamental risk to new organic producers. 169 In order to access these premiums and to make a higher income, farmers need to access larger markets for organic goods. Entering these larger organic markets typically requires producers to 76

95 certify organic. This is especially true for international organic markets in the Global North. According to Lohr, organic certification serves several purposes (Lohr 2010). 170 The first is to provide consumers with a guarantee that a food item they choose to buy fulfills certain rules, like limited or non-existent chemical use, due to the lack of visual differentiation between organic and conventional products (2010). The second purpose is to provide producers with a guarantee that other producers choosing to use the organic label are fulfilling the rules as they receive a price premium and market share for their products (2010). The final purpose is to increase market efficiency by providing sufficient information between producers and consumers about organic goods (2010). While ideally certification provides a guarantee of appropriate practices, there is inevitably some degree of uncertainty about producers actions. As discussed in Chapter 2, one advantage to organic certification is the right to use an organic label. For instance, the Ecuadorian organic agriculture NGO PROBIO is a certification body within the country that provides certified producers with the right to use its certification label of their organic products. This label above (Figure 1, left) indicates to consumers that the products are indeed organic, especially as the organization becomes more recognized and trusted within Ecuadorian society. 171 As local consumers learn about organic products and their labels, they are more likely to choose these products, and organic producers are more likely to be successful. Interestingly, Michael Ayala mentioned that only a small minority of PROBIO producers actually use this label when they sell their products (interview July 6, 2010). The implications of this trend will be explored further in the following section on alternative certification schemes. Ecuadorian Organic Market: Producer Supply and Consumer Demand An analysis of organic consumers in Ecuador and abroad indicates why certification is important. The main consumers of Ecuadorian organic goods are those in the Global North (Willer and Kilcher 2009; Andrade Ortiz and Flores 2008; Lockie 2006). These consumers tend to demand organic products for health reasons (Lockie 2006). These products must be certified according to strict rules set by national or international bodies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and IFOAM, respectively. A belief that these consumers demand organic products and are willing to pay price premiums drives many producers to enter the organic market (Lockie 2006:126). It is this demand for organic products that helps to sustain the practice of organic agriculture by small (and large) producers, despite many of the barriers to entry that we have explored in the previous chapter. Consumer demand is critical for the continued spread and progress of organic farming. Because certified-organic products are still relatively new in Ecuador, local consumers are less familiar with these products and what they indicate. As Manuel Suquilanda explains: There is a problem with organic production in the markets here in Ecuador. The people still do not identify a quality product from one produced with chemicals. People lack education. Outside of Ecuador people understand well, but here they do not. Not yet so one has to work very hard with modes of communication so that people understand 172 In general, Ecuadorian consumers do not yet recognize the difference between an organic product and a conventional product. Indeed, a study conducted by the Belgian NGO VECO in 2008 found that only7 percent of Ecuadorians know about organic or agroecological products in general, with 4.8 percent specifically having knowledge about organic goods (Andrade Ortiz and Flores 2008:31). Ecuadorians representing the highest income bracket of the study (more than 1500 USD) were those with the most knowledge of organic products (2008:32). This trend 77

96 Table 6.1 Media Ecuadorians Use to Learn about Health and Nutrition Adapted from: VECO Study by Andrade Ortiz and Flores (2008) Mode of Communication Percentage Who Use Mode Specific Examples Television 31.5 Teleamazonas; Ecuavisa Magazines 17.4 La Familia; Hogar Newspapers 17.1 El Comercio; El Universo Other 11.3 Internet; Pamphlets Radio 10.9 Books 6.4 Naturista; Nutrición Specialized Magazines 5.4 Salud; Nutrición shares parallels with the U.S., where it has been found that a major proponent of organic consumers represent an older, wealthier demographic (Lockie 2006:127). In addition, awareness of organic goods varies by region. The Sierra region where my case study takes place is home to the highest concentration of respondents who know about organics, about 9 in 100 Ecuadorians (Andrade Ortiz and Flores 2008:33). More specifically in Quito, 5.5 percent recognize organic products, which Andrade Ortiz and Flores attribute to a larger variety of organic sources, including supermarkets (2008:33). This trend is supported by a 2007 study of the Ecuadorian organic market done by GTZ, which concluded that there is still a need to increase the consumers awareness of the benefits of organic food (Willer and Kilcher 2009:208). In terms of consumption, Andrade Ortiz and Flores study (2008) finds that on a national level, only 5.2 percent of Ecuadorians currently consume organic and agroecological products, 58.5 percent would consume them in the future, and 35.5 percent would not (2008:35). Because of this general lack of knowledge, a farmer producing organically for local markets may not be successful. His products may end up competing with their conventional counterparts. I conducted my own producer supply analysis by visiting two large supermarket chains in Quito: Santa Maria and Super Maxi. When I visited a Santa Maria, I was surprised to discover no official Ecuadorian organic labels on any foods I saw. Some foods, like fresh produce, did not even have a label with production information. Many products advertised that they were 100% Natural, such as fresh produce, herbs, and granola. Some products also said without chemicals. 173 But there was nothing official to guarantee natural production. The only product I saw that said it was organic was a brand of packaged dried herb. But again, there was no certification label on the product. On one bar of premium chocolate, I discovered a label guaranteed by the Rainforest Alliance. 174 This chocolate was more expensive than the myriad choices of chocolate produced by Nestlé and likely eaten by few, wealthier shoppers. 78

97 Figure 6.2 Evidence of Organic (left) and Natural (right) Products in Ecuadorian Supermarkets By contrast, I discovered a small, clearly-marked organic section at the entrance when I visited Super Maxi. While some of these products were imported and had labels in English, many products were Ecuadorian, including quinoa and chocolate. These products were clearly marked with any combination of the following labels: (1) the USDA organic logo, (2) some version of a European certifier s organic logo, such as Ӧ kӧ BCS,175 and (3) the logo for an Ecuadorian-made product (see Figure 6.1). These products were reasonably-priced by US standards (no more than $5 USD), but are likely more expensive than conventional counterparts for Ecuadorians. I did not any other clearly-marked organic products in the rest of Super Maxi, even in the fresh produce. Overall, my exploration of major supermarket chains in Quito seems to confirm Suquilanda s remark that consumer demand for organic products is still low in Ecuador. I infer that this trend is partly due to the fact that most organic products are not differentiated from their conventional counterparts nor clearly displayed. Producers seem to be more interested in promoting foods that are produced in Ecuador, labeled with The best is from Ecuador.176 It is likely that products produced organically and eaten locally are sold with conventional products. In addition, organic products that are certified and labeled may be higher priced and out of the range of most Ecuadorian consumers. Until national awareness of and demand for organic products increases, these products will likely only be sold abroad or in alternative venues like farmer s markets. Suquilanda believes that one way to solve this problem is to educate society and consumers about the meaning and value of organic agriculture and products through the media. Andrade Ortiz and Flores study (2008) asked Ecuadorians which media they used to learn about health and nutrition and found that most (31.5 percent) prefer television, followed by magazines (17.4 percent) and newspapers (17.1 percent) (Andrade Ortiz and Flores 2008:45). See Table 6.1 for more complete results from this study. These results suggest a potential strategy for organic agriculture advocates in Ecuador. To increase their success in spreading awareness of organic agriculture, they can campaign through media most utilized by Ecuadorians interested in health and nutrition issues. Some people may be interested in organic agriculture for reasons other than 79

98 health and nutrition (as discussed in Chapter 4), but this study provides valuable insight to harness the tendencies of Ecuadorians. Before turning to a discussion of potential barriers to organic certification, it is important to recognize some of its benefits. First, organic certification allows producers to access the international market for organic goods. With this access comes the ability to capture organic price premiums and to potentially increase income. Organic certification provides valuable information for consumers about the validity of the product s organic production, especially for international consumers who live far from the production site and have the disposable income to pay price premiums for organic goods. In theory, certification also helps to safeguard organic producer legitimacy by preventing producers in violation of organic norms from tainting the reputation of other norm-abiding producers. Therefore, certification serves several functions. Potential Barriers of the Certification Process Despite price premiums and consumer recognition and trust, organic certification can be a barrier to entry in and of itself for small organic farmers. As discussed in Chapter 2, the organic certification process in general requires a long period of time and several steps involving many actors. Michael Ayala described how certifying his small farm was extremely time-consuming: Certification was a long process, more than one year. An observer visited me, then another, then another, in order to verify whether my processes were really organic. Written norms exist [to structure this process]; it is long 177 While the norms governing whether a farmer is organic are standardized by certification bodies, the process of certification is often slowed down by bureaucracy because of the actors involved and the steps required. Several certifiers must visit the farm to observe the farmer s practice and to determine whether he or she follows the rigorous standards of international organic norms. In addition, certification costs can be prohibitively high for subsistence farmers and in most cases, certification is not permanent once approved. Certification costs vary greatly depending on the size of the plot of land and other producer characteristics. However, in general they run in the thousands of dollars (Andrade Ortiz interview January 11, 2011). For a small farmer surviving on his agriculture and perhaps a supplemental job, these up-front costs can prevent farmers from pursuing organic certification. Additionally, organic certification does not certify the farmer forever. Instead, he or she must typically reapply for certification status that expires as little as every six months (Michael Ayala). While the costs of recertification are generally lower than initial costs, the producer must be able to support the costs in order to continue selling his products as certified organic (Ayala). Consequently, while certification and label usage are ways of signaling to consumers that they can trust your products, reaching the status of certified-organic farmer is challenging and represents a significant barrier to entry for farmers who want to adopt organic agriculture and enter the organic market. Results of my survey in Table 6.2 begin to illuminate the presence of this barrier for the Perucho community. Most farmers in Perucho produced crops for their own consumption or sold produce informally in the community. For example, I saw many farmers sell bags of mandarin oranges to the passengers of cars and buses that passed through Perucho. However, only half of these farmers said they sold their produce in the larger market of Quito and only one farmer said he exported to other countries. Of those who sold in Quito, some mentioned that they sold their products in supermarkets like Super Maxi and Santa Maria. 80

99 Table 6.2 The Market and Sale of Products for Perucho Farmers Market for Organic Products a Number of Farmers b Personal/family use and consumption 12 Sale in Perucho (local market) 6 Sale in Quito (regional market) 5 Export within South America 1 Export to the United States 1 a Survey participants could check as many answers as applied b Number of farmers out of a survey conducted with 13 participants (one participant does not cultivate land) These challenges are consistent with and part of a larger trend of difficulty conducting business in Ecuador. The World Bank s annual Doing Business report for 2011 ranks Ecuador 130 out of 183 economies for ease of doing business, an increase of three points from last year. 178 Traditional Solution: NGOs Aid Small Organic Farmers Given these challenges, it is clear that organic certification represents a major barrier for small farmers in Ecuador. In response to this barrier, several international NGOs working in Ecuador have pursued projects to aid small farmers and farmer associations with certification and valueadded markets. Examples include German organization GIZ and Belgian organization VECO. These markets rely on the fact that foreign consumers, especially in the Global South, demand organically-certified products and are willing to pay higher prices for these products. International NGOs like GIZ and VECO work to create more direct markets between organic producers in Ecuador and consumers in the Global North, cutting out intermediate actors and adding value to the chain for organic goods. For instance, GIZ promotes Public/Private Partnerships (PPP), a system that connects private companies with small producers, for Ecuadorian communities that produce coffee (Mr. Fuchtsjohann interview January 14, 2011). GIZ serves as a public intermediary and splits the profits of the product between the small producers and the private sellers. This strategy helps bring more income to producers that can be lost in longer commodity chains involving international markets. In many cases, these NGOs also help farmers by subsidizing organic certification costs to reduce the barrier of access to organic markets. An Alternative Solution: Associations and the Participatory Guarantee System To address this certification barrier, members of Perucho who are interested in organic agriculture have proposed an alternative solution. They have joined together with NGO PROBIO and extension agents from the Ministry of Agriculture to form an association of local organic growers called Asociación de Productores Agropecuarios de Perucho (Association of Agricultural Producers of Perucho). 179 This strategy of organization has several potential advantages for its members. As Michael Ayala explains: 81

100 Figure 6.3 Participatory Guarantee System Actors and Relations (Adapted from PROBIO presentation in Perucho, January 2011) That is the idea to form ourselves into an association in order to have more stable production because it is difficult for one or two producers to guarantee the availability of products all the time. But if we are a larger group we can better synchronize productive processes and have products available for a market that would be more permanent. And also, as an association, one can solicit different government entities to help us in the construction for example of a market, for a stock center or a place where we can prepare foods in order for them to last longer and in order for them to be commercialized in a hygienic form 180 Farmers working collectively have more influence to pursue group goals and solicit aid from more powerful actors, like the government, than if they struggle independently. They can also produce food with more stability, meaning that collaboratively they can offer a larger variety of high-quality produce to a larger market. According to the development plan for Perucho for 2002 to 2012, one of the planned projects for the community is to develop a centro de acopio or agricultural stock center that would centralize agricultural activity and allow producers to reach a larger scale market without reliance on intermediaries 181. The plan estimates that the cost of this initiative is $50,000 USD, which will be supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs. Together with PROBIO, this farmer association wants to pursue a different model of certification: sistema participativa de garantía (participatory guarantee system). According to IFOAM, participatory guarantee systems are locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange. 182 The central idea of this scheme is that producers build direct relationships with their consumers through spaces such as local farmers markets. These more personal relationships allow producers to create trust among their Figure 6.4 Process of Participatory Guarantee System (adapted from PROBIO presentation) 82

101 consumers such that they are obligated to produce healthy, quality food. This sense of trust allows producers to sell their products and keep money in the community, while circumventing the formal certification process. The alternative system is also based in an ecological philosophy that promotes natural and socially just agricultural practices (IFOAM 2007, Vega Vaca 2006). Figures 2 and 3 provide a basic outline of the actors and relationships involved in the participatory guarantee system. Participatory guarantee requires a review of the farm and its practices, often includes a transition period when producers adapt practices based on independent observer recommendations, and stamps of approval require regular renewal. Review typically follows a set of agreed norms for agricultural practice. These processes are similar to traditional organic certification. However, this process is less costly when pursued as a group and focuses on local producers, particularly associations, who grow for local markets rather than export. According to Michael Ayala, the participatory guarantee system is not yet legally recognized by the Ecuadorian government and AGROCALIDAD (the quality control sector). Nonetheless, many associations of producers have adopted the system, and they are currently working on a joint proposal to the government for legal recognition (Michael Ayala presentation 2011). However, PROBIO is recognized by IFOAM as an organization promoting this alternative certification scheme in Ecuador. 183 PROBIO s participatory guarantee system stamp lasts two years and follows a set of three overarching norms (fresh food, elaborations, and gastronomy). 184 As Michael Ayala explains, alternative certification can make organic certification unnecessary: I am certified, I have the stamp saved on my computer, but I have never had to use it for anything. It is not on my website, it is not here on the farm, it is not on my products. Nowhere What happens is that I have not needed it. One time, when I presented in a local product store, they told me that certification would be advisable But I have stopped selling in this store because they were the only ones that asked me for the stamp. And it was for that reason that I entered in PROBIO basically. I needed certification accessible to my market as well as the size of my farm 185 Despite being certified-organic, Michael found that the certification was not useful or necessary for selling his products locally because hardly any vendors asked for proof (organic stamp). He pursued alternative certification from PROBIO looking for a more appropriate scheme for smallscale production for a local economy instead of large-scale production for export. More farmers in Ecuador are realizing that formal certification is unnecessary in this circumstance. A Complementary Alternative: Ferias (Farmer s Markets) In addition to alternative certification schemes like PGS, many small producers have formed alternative markets for their sustainably-produced goods. These markets bypass many of the problems associated with formal markets, such as regulations, certification, and dependence on more powerful actors and institutions. One branch of these markets is the feria (farmer s market). Similar to farmer s markets in the U.S., ferias are both sites and events that provide an opportunity for producers and consumers to connect and exchange goods directly. This unique kind of interaction promotes a more personal relationship based on trust and understanding. The hope is that an interactive relationship will cause the producer to produce only healthy, quality food and the consumer to appreciate and support the work of the producer by choosing to purchase his or her goods. Compared to the myriad food markets that exist throughout Ecuador, the focus of these ferias tends to be food grown organically or agroecologically. 83

102 Figure 6.5 Location of Farmer s Markets in Quito in Many ferias are cropping up all around Quito and beyond (see Figure 6.5). I had the opportunity to visit two of these ferias, Feria de Arte y Cultura in La Carolina park of Quito and La Elvirita feria in Tumbaco, and to participate in the feria in Quito. The Feria de Arte y Cultura is hosted by the NGO PROBIO and other organizations once a month and brings together producers with products grown no more than 100 kilometers from the site of the market. Products include fresh produce, prepared foods like bread, honey, and baked goods, and handmade arts and crafts. The producers decide on a determined list of prices for each item prior to the markets and agree to sell all their products according to this agreement. In addition, there are often events like speeches and discussions, dances, and other cultural performances. Producers from other provinces are also encouraged to visit the market to share in activities. When I visited these markets with Michael Ayala, these events were fairly well attended, although Michael mentioned that hundreds more used to visit when they started in Customers included modern-dressed Ecuadorians, indigenous groups, and some foreigners. I also visited the feria La Elvirita, which is held once a month in the nearby town of Tumbaco. La Elvirita is the product of three groups, La Red de Guardianes de Semillas (RGS), Slow Food and La Huila Cafe. When I visited the market in January 2011, I discovered that it was much smaller than the market in Quito. It consisted of about 10 tables of products, with many of the vendors overlapping with the La Carolina market. Despite its small size, the products were diverse, ranging from traditional fresh produce to homemade jewelry and body products to honey to artisanal cheeses and music. Other markets are also cropping up around Quito. It was clear that there is a community of producers who support the market and are part of a network of Ecuadorians promoting agroecology in the country. Does this informal network form part of a larger social movement within Ecuador? A Growing Social Movement: Endogenous Adoption? I turn my attention now to a new trend in the spread of organic agriculture. So far, classical diffusion theory has helped to explain how organic agriculture is moving in Ecuador. Many of the actors and projects have followed a top-down approach to educating and aiding small farmers to adopt organic practices. These initiatives often intersect with certification, regulation, and international export as farmers grow organic products for the Global North. However, this process is far from one-directional and passive. Ideas about sustainable agriculture in Ecuador are instead dynamic and highly-contested. I alluded to this trend when I formulated my 84

103 Figure 6.6 Farmer s Markets in Tumbaco (left) and Quito (right) alternative hypothesis of endogenous adoption. Specifically, as a local organic philosophy and incentives for organic products increase, organic practices will diffuse through local farmers. What I argue in this section is that there is growing evidence of a social movement around sustainable agriculture that represents a bottom-up grassroots flow. This movement grows from the work of local actors in communities. Instead of organic agriculture, this movement focuses on another model of sustainable agriculture: agroecology. While the agroecology movement certainly has internal origins, a philosophy, and an identity, it is not completely endogenous as my hypothesis proposes. Rather, as this movement grows, more actors become involved and add their support, including international NGOs and other foreign actors. One example of this growing network is Colectivo Agroecológico, a community of national and international NGOs, organizations, and informal communities. According to their website, the network was established in 2006 and consists of the following groups: CEA, Heifer Ecuador, PROBIO, VECO Andino, Acción Ecológica, Red de Guardianes de Semillas, and Red Mar, Tierra y Canasta. 187 This network s activities revolve around its current campaign: Come Sano, Seguro y Soberano (Eat Healthily, Safely and with Sovereignty). A critical analysis of their definition of agroecology speaks volumes about their philosophy and core values: seeks a harmonious relationship between humans, family, and community and nature and the products it offers us. Therefore, it questions extractive and consumptive mercantile logic, offering instead Food Sovereignty as a form in which the population controls the processes of production, distribution and consumption of food. It also adds dynamism to life and social relations between urban and rural families, cultivating living alternatives and strengthening the dynamics themselves. 188 Interestingly, this definition echoes much of Northbourne s holistic view of organic farming (see Chapter 2). However, its goal is to promote a form of agriculture that changes the fundamental economic system and to replace it with a more local, personal form of economy based on relationships both between people and between people and the environment. In this sense, agroecology is inherently more political in its strategies of social change because it pursues a fundamental transformation of existing infrastructure (Daisy Peña interview June 18, 2010). 85

104 Figure 6.7 Campaign Poster for Agroecology Movement While organic agriculture shares some of these sentiments, an emphasis on relation-based economics is unique to agroecology. Indeed, this movement can be seen as a response to modern organic agriculture as it increases in scale and becomes more regulated through international markets. Modern organic agriculture as presented initially by NGOs strove to return to more natural and environmentally and socially-conscious methods of farming, like those of traditional agriculture. However, as state actors and others have become involved, modern organic agriculture has taken on a market-focused and regulations-based orientation that loses these values. Because it is based on relationships and local networks of people, agroecology provides an alternative that retains more of the initial values and puts agency and control in the hands of producers and their communities of consumers. It is in this sense that agroecology is political. Three entities extend from this campaign: Centro Martín Pescador, Cooperativa Zapallo Verde, and many Ferias (farmer s markets), including those mentioned above (Feria Arte y Cultura in Quito and La Elvirita in Tumbaco). One example of the actors involved in this movement is the Red de Guardianes de Semillas (RGS). Founded in 2002, RGS strives to preserve and use the traditional seeds and agricultural knowledge of Ecuador as well as promote agroecology, nutrition, and economic solidarity (website). 189 RGS is not an NGO but rather an informal community of people who believe in cultural and biological preservation and education. Principal activities of RGS are the ferias and canastas of agroecological products available to local consumers, as well as agricultural training and consulting in farm design and other topics. One of the leaders of the world agroecology movement is Miguel Altieri, a professor in Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of Berkeley. Altieri argues that agroecology has become popular throughout the Global South because it is more accessible to the poor (Schoch 2001). 190 While small farmers pursuing organic agriculture must contend with the costs and time required to become certified, agroecological practices do not follow certification schemes. Agroecology is also more attractive because it focuses on improving the health of the overall production unit, the farm, rather than production yield (Schoch 2001). This emphasis is more applicable to the situation of small farmers who must rely on agriculture for subsistence. Finally, Altieri argues that agroecology is more suited to the lives of small producers 86

105 because it follows a bottom-up approach, building upon the resources already available: local people, their knowledge, and their natural resources (Schoch 2001). Agroecology initiatives tend to be more participatory than those of organic agriculture because they start with individuals ideas for how to improve their lives; it builds on existing traditional knowledge. Agroecology is growing throughout Latin America through organizations like Movimiento Agroecológico de América Latina y el Caribe (MAELA) and the Latin American Consortium on Agroecology and Sustainable Development (CLADES) based in Chile. Although agroecology is not unique to Ecuador, it has sparked a public debate in recent years between those who support it and those who are skeptical of its contribution to agricultural production. Many skeptics question whether agroecology is economically viable, that is, whether it allows farmers to make a living when compared to conventional practices. Altieri also alludes to structural barriers that prevent acceptance, including: a lack of political will to champion this more pro-poor approach It is very difficult for scientists from the North who are supposed to be specialists in international agriculture to accept that the South knows better (Schoch 2001). These power dynamics create a limit to how far agroecology s influence can currently extend. To strengthen the argument for agroecology, several scientific studies, including one conducted by the University of Essex, show that agroecological practices allow farmers to grow crops in an environmentally sustainable, socially beneficial manner, while also supporting these farmers economically. 191 Initiatives to promote agroecology in Ecuador include projects by Red Nacional Mar, Tierra y Canasta to aid over 1,000 agroecological producers and a project by CIALCO with the Ministry of Agriculture to study the importance of agroecology among Ecuador s agricultural practices. 192 CIALCO found an enormous economic potential 193 among these producers to survive in a poor economy through income from alternative markets. 194 This movement focuses less on regulation and certification because agroecology is based on traditional, natural practices for local consumption, rather than distribution and export. As a result, this approach is much more participatory and less threatened by powerful actors. Nonetheless, this movement is not endogenous. Increasingly, outside actors like international NGOs have included agroecology into their agendas. For instance, Belgian NGO VECO promotes agroecology over certified-organic agriculture for its small producer partners (Andrade Ortiz interview January 11, 2011). As agroecology grows and includes more actors, it may become more difficult for Ecuadorian producers to own the agenda of the movement in the face of more powerful actors. Much of the philosophy and identity of the agroecology movement reflects and connects to the presence of other social movements in Ecuador. These social movements are principally indigenous movements based on a call for recognition, rights, and a participatory voice in social, political, and economic aspects of Ecuadorian life. An inherent connection between these movements comes from the fact that small farmers promoting agroecology are also indigenous peoples who have been marginalized in Ecuadorian society for centuries. Indeed, indigenous farmers have been fighting for the right to land for centuries, especially during the agricultural reforms of the 1960 s and 70 s (Sánchez-Parga 2010). As Manuel Suquilanda explains: 87

106 The problem is that in Ecuador the farmers have small and few [pieces of] land, the small and mediumsized producer feel that they do not have technology for them. The technology was for the large [producers] that have lots of lands, that have water, that have a lot of money to buy tractors, better seeds and fertilizers. The small [producers] do not have the money for this and they began to organize themselves and they began to look for what we call a new orientation so that they could produce. And that has happened since the 1980 s and now they have more power. 195 Agricultural issues are intimately intertwined with social issues in Ecuador. Small farmers are uniting and fighting back against the government and other actors to gain rights to basic resources that allow them to maintain an agricultural lifestyle and to provide for their families. One of the main goals is to create a space for small farmers voices to be heard in society and therefore to offer more agency to otherwise marginalized members of Ecuadorian society. Agroecology contests many of the current structures that prevent these voices from being heard, such as the rigid structure of agricultural production for foreign demand and the certification system for modern organic agriculture. Conclusions: Certification Creates an Agricultural Divide This chapter explored a barrier to entry unique to organic producers: access to the market for organic products. It also analyzed the growing agroecological movement within Ecuador as a potential example of endogenous adoption. The findings reveal several patterns: small farmers want to access the organic market but face the barrier of organic certification, farmers can overcome this barrier with the help of other actors or through alternative schemes, and farmers who reject organic certification represent a movement and network of agroecological producers. First, farmers are motivated to adopt organic agriculture and pursue organic certification to capture price premiums. These premiums represent an economic incentive for farmers that must survive based on subsistence agriculture. However, they are hindered by the costs and long process of formal certification. Because the Ecuadorian organic market is new, low consumer demand exists for organic products, so producers must grow for an export-oriented, international market based in the Global North. Second, faced with the barrier of organic certification, small farmers have explored both traditional and alternative solutions. A more traditional solution is the formation of partnerships with national or international NGOs that alter markets to create more direct relationships between producers and consumers. Farmers that cannot or do not want to pursue formal certification have explored producer associations, alternative certification schemes like the participatory guarantee system, and alternative local markets like farmer s markets. Third, many of these producers who reject formal organic certification have formed an informal network pursuing another form of sustainable agriculture: agroecology. Similar in some ways to the philosophy of organic agriculture, agroecology promotes local, relationship-based economy and the production of natural, environmentally-aware foods. While this trend can be called a social movement for food sovereignty that puts power back in the hands of small producers, other actors like international NGOs have started to participate and pose a potential threat to the grassroots movement. I hypothesized that small farmers would be more likely to adopt and sustain organic practices if there are limited barriers to entry or they could overcome them. This includes the third barrier to entry discussed, access to organic markets. I also hypothesized the existence of the endogenous 88

107 adoption of organic agriculture, in which organic agriculture represented a movement uninfluenced by actors outside of Ecuador. My findings suggest that certification may indeed threaten the sustainability of organic practices if farmers cannot access the organic market. They may be forced to sell their products undifferentiated from conventional counterparts and abandon organic practices because they do not receive a benefit for the added work of organic production. Farmers may need to partner with more influential actors, namely international NGOs to overcome this barrier and export their products. Others have pursued alternative schemes that focus on local markets. While these schemes may not offer the price premiums of international markets, they maintain power in small producers hands and help strengthen local communities. The growing agroecological movement represents a call for grassroots solidarity and an overhaul of the existing political and economic situation in Ecuador. Movement leaders should be aware of the increasing participation of outside actors like NGOs as they plan the movement s agenda. These findings are important because they point out that organic certification is a major point of contention in the sustainable agriculture dialogue in Ecuador. How a producer responds to the certification barrier determines whether he or she follows one of two increasingly divergent trajectories: certified-organic export production for the Global North or non-certified agroecological production for local markets. While we have seen that organic certification poses many benefits as well as important information for consumers, it tends to constrain and institutionalize the practice of organic agriculture and draw producers away from its original philosophy and values. The resulting form of agriculture may not be appropriate for the Ecuadorian context based in traditional, agroecological farming. It also makes small producers reliant on more powerful actors. Consequently, many farmers reject the entire organic paradigm in favor of agroecology and its focus on local solidarity. Agroecology may seem like a beneficial and appropriate solution to the certification question. But producers in Ecuador face limited local awareness and support of agroecological food to support their work. They also face the threat of influence by outside actors and the potential for dilution of the grassroots movement as it becomes less and less endogenous. Confronted with these challenges, small farmers may give up entirely and return to conventional farming that is at least more stable. The future of the certification debate and its implications must be discussed by more actors if sustainable agriculture be it organic or agroecological is to be successful in Ecuador. As the web of actors becomes increasingly interconnected and complex, the question becomes: Where do we go from here? With so many actors and so many agendas, how to we find a common ground that fulfills the goals of all groups within Ecuador? Is a common ground possible? Or will there continue to be a debate between actors negotiating ideas about organic agriculture and how it should best be practiced? These questions and others will be explored in the concluding chapter of this thesis. 89

108 90

109 CHAPTER 7. Drawing Conclusions: What Happens to Ecuadorian Organic Agriculture? There are two clearly differentiated trends in Ecuador: first, the development of organic certified agriculture for the international markets, and second, agroecology, or organic agriculture without certification Willer and Kilcher 196 This thesis has explored the spread of organic agriculture as the diffusion of an innovation in the developing world. It traced this process through the case study of a community of small farmers in Ecuador. The questions this thesis seeks to address are: To what extent does the process of transition to organic agriculture represent the diffusion of innovation from the Global North to the Global South? What are the actors and mechanisms at play in this process of diffusion? What motivations and values cause farmers in Ecuador to consider and to adopt organic practices? I proposed several hypotheses to explain this diffusion process: transnational/ globalization diffusion, transnational translation, local networks, and endogenous adoption. The transnational/globalization diffusion hypothesis states that organic agriculture adoption results from neoclassical economics. As trade liberalization increases between Ecuador and the Global North, demand for organic products increases, resulting in increased organic agriculture. The transnational translation hypothesis posits that if there are legitimate and capable actors who promote organic agriculture through cultural fit, local farmers will adopt organic agricultural practices. The local network hypothesis states that at the community level, if there are close-knit social networks and limited barriers to entry, local farmers will adopt organics. In tandem, the neoclassical economics condition, along with the local actor frame-bridging condition and local network condition, and may be necessary and sufficient conditions to explain the increased adoption of organic practices in Ecuador. Alternatively, the endogenous adoption hypothesis states that Ecuadorian organic agriculture is not sufficiently affected by outside conditions. Instead, Ecuadorian organic agriculture has mirrored the U.S. organic movement. Specifically, as a local organic philosophy and incentives for organic products increase, organic practices will diffuse through local farmers. This hypothesis suggests a social movement, with an environmental identity and recognition of traditional agriculture, as the main mechanism for the diffusion of organic agriculture. 91

110 Main Findings The main findings of this thesis fall into three broad patterns: actors at the national level as regulators and gatekeepers, actors at the regional and local levels as promoters, and barriers to entry, potential solutions, and the rising agroecology movement. The findings support some of these hypotheses while questioning others as explanations for the spread of organic agriculture. Actors at the National Level as Regulators and Gatekeepers First, through an exploration of the main actors at the national level, we learned that public institutions like the Ministry of Agriculture serve as central nodes in regulating and testing organic agricultural production in the country. These actors promote a particular path of agriculture: certified-organic agriculture for the international organic market. However, the Ministry of Agriculture and its subsidiaries have only recently begun initiatives to spread organic agriculture. Therefore, their participation in this sector is currently underdeveloped. The actors who are more effective at spreading organic agriculture are national and international NGOs. While both share the same overarching goal, national NGOs like PROBIO and CEA work with their fellow producers to promote a sustainable form of agriculture, generally, noncertified organic production like agroecology. Foreign NGOs like VECO Andino and SWISSAID, on the other hand, focus on organic agriculture as a strategy for poverty alleviation using alternative market schemes within the international organic market paradigm to improve livelihoods. Foreign NGOs tend to have more funds at their disposal. Strategies used by organizations include training, advocacy, research, consultancy, certification, and more. Foreign actors increasingly have a stake in the spread of organic agriculture either as funders of large development projects or as representatives of public or private organizations. This finding suggests that innovations do cross national boundaries, as the globalization/transnational diffusion hypothesis posits. While foreigners are powerful enough to affect the national agenda, they must be careful not to overstep boundaries and disrespect the State. Network analysis of these influential national actors reveals that the central nodes are Ecuadorian actors: the Ministry of Agriculture and national NGOs. Although there may be power struggles between the Global North and South, it appears that Ecuadorians still have a major stake in the global conversation. The web of actors will only continue to increase and become more interconnected over time. Actors at the Regional and Local Levels as Promoters Second, we traced several key actors who work to spread organic agriculture through the regional and local levels, including Manuel Suquilanda, Francisco Pacho Gangotena, and Michael Ayala. These actors serve as intermediaries between national level actors and local community producers. A common strategy these actors employ is establishing legitimacy and capability in the eyes of their partners through higher education and experience in the field. Other strategies include teaching courses to university students, using a model organic farm to teach interested farmers, and teaching a hands-on course to a local association of small farmers. These findings lend support to the transnational translation hypothesis of cultural fit utilization. The case study of Perucho reveals that the adoption-diffusion process of spreading organic agriculture is complicated by the complex motivations and values of small farmers. Farmers in Perucho tend to value health and the environment more than economic and cultural factors, 92

111 although vignettes provide evidence that each producer is unique. During the summer of 2010, the organic agriculture class appeared to be a success as many participants identified themselves as organic farmers, even if they had not fully adopted all fundamental organic practices. It is likely that close-knit social networks helped to reinforce attendance and retention of concepts as the course also served as a social meeting space, supporting the local network hypothesis. However, the effectiveness of factors like legitimate and capable actors and social networks is questioned when we return to the Perucho organic adoption project in January 2011 and find it mostly disintegrated. While these factors may be necessary to start the adoption process, they are likely not sufficient to ensure long-term, sustainable organic agricultural practice. Key actors like Michael Ayala play an important role in the spread of organic agriculture, perhaps to the extent that their actions prevent self-sustaining practice. Additional factors, such as barriers to entry, affect whether small producers adopt and continue to practice organic agriculture in the future. Barriers to Entry, Potential Solution, and the Rising Agroecology Movement Third, many barriers to entry affect producers decision to adopt and practice organic agriculture. These include barriers that are common to most agricultural producers, such as access to land and water, while other barriers are more unique to organic agriculture itself, like access to information and expert advice and access to the organic market through organic certification. The degree of the barrier affects whether a producer can adopt or continue to practice organic agriculture. For example, lack of access to natural resources like land and water can prevent a new producer from adopting any form of agriculture, while a current producer with limited land and water will face the challenge of sustainably producing organic agriculture in the future. Access to information and expert advice is also essential to the adoption of organic agriculture because of its software-based nature. Producers need initial information to adopt organic agriculture, such as in the case of Perucho. In order to continue producing successfully, these adopters need continued access to expert advice, such as through extension agents. In terms of access to the organic market, farmers must face the barrier of certifying their farms, a long and costly process. Certification provides these farmers with the legitimacy to provide for consumer demand in the Global North, most specifically Europe and the United States. Potential solutions to these barriers are both traditional and alterative in nature. In terms of traditional solutions, farmers may work with the local and national government to implement a new irrigation system that does not compete with more powerful actors like florícolas. In terms of alternative solutions, farmers may deal with lack of access to land by sharing a plot of land in a group organization or seek an alternative certification scheme called the participatory guarantee system to circumvent the issue of standard organic certification in favor of a local economy. More successful solutions tend to increase the influence of small producers by forming them collectively; the more success they are, the more likely farmers will adopt and practice organics, as the local network hypothesis suggests. Agroecology is an alternative model of sustainable agriculture that is also becoming popular in Ecuador. Agroecology has a more holistic and inherently political agenda than organic agriculture: to fundamentally change the current relationship between people, the Earth, and their food and to promote an alternative form of economy based on local solidarity. The rise of this 93

112 social and agricultural movement is likely partly a response to barriers to entry like organic certification. While my alternative hypothesis of endogenous adoption suggests that this movement is a purely Ecuadorian phenomenon, evidence suggests that outside actors do incite and affect the conversation, particularly others in Latin America. Like we see with foreign actors promoting organic agriculture in Chapter 3, agroecology is crossing national boundaries, and actors in the Global North are also joining in on the dialogue about how to grow and eat food. Revising Theory and Hypotheses When we look at these findings in light of the proposed hypotheses, we find that the evidence supports some of the hypotheses and puts others into questions. As hypothesized, neoclassical economics helps to explain some of the spread of organic agriculture through the growing international organic market. However, this hypothesis remains a foil that does not explain the role of legitimate and capable actors or the complex motivations and practices of small farmers. While public institutions like the Ecuadorian government support organic agriculture to boost their economy, it is clear that other factors like a development agenda are in the picture. Figure 7.1 Schematic of Organic Agriculture Diffusion in Ecuador 94

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