La multidimensionalidad de los sistemas locales de alimentación en los Andes peruanos: los chalayplasa del Valle de Lares (Cusco)

    Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


    In the Andes, traditional strategies for food production are still the main sources for feeding rural population. However, after the Second World War, international institutions, research centers and national governments promoted local livelihood integration to global agro-industry systems. Due to poverty increases in rural areas, Fujimori's government implemented food and agricultural production assistance programs. A set of local projects were promoted so as to improve monetary spending power of the poorest social groups. In spite of national government attempts to integrate traditional livelihoods to monetary markets, peasants could not maintain production intensification processes. Specificity and variability of environmental conditions in the Andes, as well as pest and disease increase, impeded intensification production. At the same time, instability of prices for cash varieties and increasing prices of fertilisers and pesticides reduced small farmers' purchase power to food outside the agro-ecosystem. However, conservation of local food production systems and social cooperation strategies allowed for the emergence of a barter markets network called chalayplasa in kechua. The aims of our research were: (i) to interpret the emergence of barter markets in the context of national food and agriculture policies implementation, (ii) to understand how barter markets work, and (iii) to assess the contribution of barter markets to the agro-ecosystem's multi-functionality conservation. An integrated assessment of the chalayplasa network was developed. Pos-normal science and livelihood framework were used. The guiding principles of the research were: (i) quality of the process through participation of local people traditionally excluded from public policy making processes and development interventions, and (ii) incommensurability of values for interpreting complexity embedded into the system. A participative research-action process was implemented to promote multiple knowledge dialogue. This research included various elements of ecological economics, political ecology, rural sociology, agroecology and agrarian anthropology. Andean cosmology helped to unravel the wide diversity of local relevant aspects related to local food strategies. Comparison of results with other means of obtaining food suggests that general monetary market participation and governmental food assistance programs adopt a subordinated role in local food systems. Latter strategies are not determining local social organization for food production and distribution. Chalayplasas coexist with other economic integration forms. These barter markets act as buffer mechanisms to dissipate monetary market pressures on peasant's domestic economies. They allow for integrating economic activities at different scales. Individual and collective participation to barter markets is based upon reciprocity, redistribution and autarchy. Barter markets mainly provide essential chemical elements and vitamins crucial to prevent protein and energetic malnutrition in poorest sectors of the population. Participatory rules allow for the conservation of agro-biodiversity, soil quality, and pest control processes. Analysis of political control aspects shows that barter markets constitute genuine ways of popular economy. They emerge as dynamic adaptations to keep the productive self-management and des-centralised governance of local livelihoods. Results suggest that the reason of barter market's existence is caring for those processes that allow the agro-ecosystem multi-functionality at different scales through the conservation of traditional agricultural practices and strategies. With chalayplasa, communities redefine their economic system into a hybrid of non-monetary and monetary forms. Therefore, chalayplasas restates the peasant economy within the limits of the social and ecological system.
    Date of Award1 Jan 2005
    Original languageSpanish
    SupervisorJoan Martinez Alier (Director) & Giuseppe Munda (Director)

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