Mercados Campesinos : food sovereignty construction and peasant autonomy in Bogota, Colombia
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This thesis documents the history and most recent events relating to Mercados Campesinos (MC), a farmer’s market and short food distribution program that allowed peasants from Colombia’s central region to sell their products directly to consumers and bypass Bogota’s main food system. Broadly, the thesis explores the implications of food sovereignty movements aiming to provide alternatives for peasant autonomy, and state intervention in such movements. This thesis addresses the following questions: How do food, and under what circumstances do local food sovereignty movements arise? How do different actors participating in food sovereignty construction understand and articulate claims to influence and participate in domestic food systems in particular geographical settings? What practices of autonomy do peasants engage in to promote food sovereignty? The political efforts of peasant organizations, peasant farmers and international nonprofits introduce language and practices of food sovereignty and peasant economy within Bogota’s Master Plan For Food Security and Supply [Plan Maestro de Abastecimiento de Alimentos y Seguridad Alimentaria de Bogota, PMASAB], and the debate between these groups and the state over the PMASAB represents a process of food sovereignty construction. In part, the thesis focuses on the political interaction different actors over norms, discourses, and claims of how to best manage the production and commercialization of food to satisfy the needs of Bogota’s population and rural peasants in the central region of the country. I argue that the arena of food distribution and commercialization demonstrates how political interaction between the state and other civil society actors, with different meanings and discourses over food security and sovereignty shapes policies and practices related to food systems. In the case of Bogota’s MC, peasant organizations, and peasant farmers attempted to create autonomy through discourses and practices over livelihoods, improved food production and commercialization, and urban-rural integration, as opposed to industrial and centralized production, distribution, and commercialization processes. The MC program, however did not result in full peasant autonomy, as it was managed within the confines of a food policy controlled by District and regional authorities.