Food or flowers? Contested transformations of community food security and water use priorities under new legal and market regimes in Ecuador's highlands

Patricio Mena-Vásconez*, Rutgerd Boelens, Jeroen Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During the past three decades, the Pisque watershed in Ecuador's Northern Andes has become the country's principal export-roses producing area. Recently, a new boom of local smallholders have established small rose greenhouses and joined the flower-export business. This has intensified water scarcity and material/discursive conflicts over water use priorities: water to defend local-national food sovereignty or production for export. This paper examines how including peasant flower farms in the capitalist dream - driven by a 'mimetic desire' and copying large-scale capitalist flower-farm practices and technologies - generates new intra-community conflicts over collective water rights, extending traditional class-based water conflicts. New allocation principles in Ecuador's progressive 2008 Constitution and 2014 Water Law prioritising food production over flowers' industrial water use are unlikely to benefit smallholder communities. Instead, decision-making power for peasant communities and their water users' associations on water use priority would enable water user prioritization according to smallholders' own preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-238
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Volume44
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Commoditisation
  • Ecuador
  • Flower agribusiness
  • Food sovereignty
  • Irrigation conflicts
  • Water rights

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