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Ecuador is one of many countries in which one cannot talk about Food Sovereignty without talking about the exploitation of natural resources by extractive industries.

Ecuador has an oil production rate of 400.000 barrels per day, each year more than 32.000 barrels are spilt into the river systems. This means that every 2 -3 years, a spill as big as the “Exxon Valdez” takes place in the Amazon.

Traditional game and fishing is scarce due to the pollution of the air and the contamination of the rivers.

Not surprisingly, most part of these areas happen to be inhabited by indigenous peoples. This means their the capacity to grow food and be self-sufficient is very limited.

Our guest blog contributor this week is Fabricio Guaman and here he is writing about two different but related initiatives happening in his country. One is the more local organic urban-rural cooperative Zapallo Verde (Green Pumpkin) and the other is a national initiative by the Ecuadorian Government and civil society that proposes a new model  of development for the Global South and relationship with nature by simply LEAVING THE OIL IN THE GROUND (next post).

Both initiatives are needed if Ecuador is ever to recover its Food Sovereignty. Representatives of Zapallo Verde will be attending Food Revolt Conference on the 12th of November.

Fabricio was born in the city of Quito in 1975. He trained as an environmental scientist and has a vast experience as popular educator in the Latin American region. Taking root in the Ecuadorian Amazonia for the last seven years, he has learned the kindness of the ancient knowledge of the indigenous peoples, like his grandfather, coexisting with several communities of this region. Sharing and living through community experiences he has supported several processes of resistance in defense of the natural resources and the rights of these peoples.

Zapallo Verde Food Cooperative

The Green Pumpkin is a non-profit-making association, which assures the producers are paid a fair price and that they work in a safe environment without being exploited by intermediaries. The co-operative also defends agricultural and cultural diversity, by supporting the conservation of traditional seeds and the re-valorisation of indigenous peoples’ knowledge. The trade is direct, free, and reciprocal between producers and consumers, promoting the idea that organic products are not a luxury and can be accessible to everyone.

It is an experience auto managed from the south that it tries to construct another economy, another nourishment and another way of relating. We seek to establish an organizational form that raises a different way of producing, of commercializing and consuming healthy food; that promotes an economy to local scale, which defends the agricultural and cultural diversity, the solidarity and the social and environmental co- responsibility.

For this we have joined people of the field and of the city and have formed a cooperative of organic products.”

The people of the field we are persons, families and associations that produce in a sincere way with the environment and especially, it is honest with us themselves. The base of these producers is the Guardians of Seeds Network (Red de Guardianes de semillas RGS) that is a base organization, without ends of profit, dedicated to promoting the conservation and the use of organic traditional seeds and knowledge associated in the Tropical Andes

The people of the city we are persons, families, associations worried by a good nourishment as for the producer and to the environment.”

The base of the consumers we are young teachers in diverse subject matters that we try to practice what we teach. And for it we have constructed in the middle of the city an urban space where we demonstrate with the practice that it is possible to live otherwise; it is to say, diminishing our consumerism (of energy, of water, of space, etc.), increasing our conscience on our footprint in this world.

We are producing and consuming persons in charge that we recognize our fundamental right to accede to healthy and nourishing food, strengthening the human relations between both realities. But overcoat, we are civil and citizens critics that we have joined efforts to help ourselves mutually and this way transformers to turn into human beings and compromised with our reality”.

Why belong to the Green Pumpkin co-operative?

Because we believe that small producers:

-should receive fair payment for their work
– should have fair, safe and healthy working conditions (e.g. without the use of pesticides)
– should regain their dignity as producers and preserve traditional knowledge of food production
– and that we should gain confidence in food production. There is no need for organic certification.
– Producers should stand out as leaders in the chain of commerce.

Because we can aim to a type of trade that:

– pays fair prices, independent of the mainstream market
– is direct, .permitting better knowledge of the producers’ working conditions and so avoiding their exploitation by intermediaries.
– is direct and free. Because a few mainstream business have a lot of power over many small producers.
– is reciprocal between producers and consumers.
– is new and alternative.

Because as consumers we have the rights:

– to consume healthy and nourishing products
– to pay fair and reasonable prices. Organic food is not a luxury.
– to develop a food culture based on local, seasonable and organically-grown foods.
– to choose our products and with them a way of life.
– to food sovereignty.

One Comment
  • Teresa October 18, 2011 at 18:42

    On October 16th was the World Food Sovereignty Day, see below press release from Via Campesina reporting from Rome at the World Food Security negations. For more info visit: http://viacampesina.org/en/

    16-17 October 2011 – World Food Sovereignty Day
    Rome, Italy, 17 October 2011 – As the 37th session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) begins at FAO, civil society organizations (CSO) welcome Saturday’s results of the second round of negotiations on the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, and urge governments to conclude negotiations as soon as possible.

    After an intense week of negotiations, 74% of the text of the Guidelines was adopted, including crucial issues for social movements and organizations, like the recognition and protection of customary systems of land tenure, forest and fisheries, and protection of the defenders of the rights of farmers, fishermen, indigenous peoples, pastoralists and nomads, as well as a commitment to not criminalize social struggles in defense of their natural resources.
    “The adopted text reflects the fact that we were here, reminding government officials that they have an obligation to ensure our interests,” said Kalissa Regier, Canadian farmer, on behalf of La Via Campesina.

    The CSOs also presented the Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing, endorsed by 870 organizations around the world, to the chair of CFS, Dr. Noel D. De Luna. They asked that this appeal be considered in the negotiations and for a ban on land grabbing. However, this and other proposals of the CSOs were strongly rejected by several governments.
    “I saw several governments attempt to get rid of the human rights approach to the governance of natural resources. It was a tough fight, “said Sofia Monsalve Suárez, a key negotiator and representative of FIAN International. “The use of natural resources for food production is a matter of right and cannot be commoditized.”

    Because of the complexity of the text, the negotiations were not concluded. Several contentious issues, such as investment in agriculture, still remain. The Committee on Food Security, the new governing body of agricultural and food policy, will determine when the next negotiations will take place and in the coming week will discuss about others important issues as food price volatility and trade policies.