Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 537–548 | Cite as

Local is not fair: indigenous peasant farmer preference for export markets

  • Rachel Soper


The food sovereignty movement calls for a reversal of the neoliberal globalization of food, toward an alternative development model that supports peasant production for local consumption. The movement holds an ambiguous stance on peasant production for export markets, and clearly prioritizes localized trade. Food sovereignty discourse often simplifies and romanticizes the peasantry—overlooking agrarian class categories and ignoring the interests of export-oriented peasants. Drawing on 8 months of participant observation in the Andean countryside and 85 interviews with indigenous peasant farmers, this paper finds that export markets are viewed as more fair than local markets. The indigenous peasants in this study prefer export trade because it offers a more stable and viable livelihood. Feeding the national population through local market intermediaries, by contrast, is perceived as unfair because of oversupply and low, fluctuating prices. This perspective, from the ground, offers important insight to movement actors and scholars who risk oversimplifying peasant values, interests, and actions.


Food sovereignty Globalization Local markets Export agriculture Fair trade Peasants Indigenous Ecuador 



Food sovereignty movement


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development


Símbolo de Pequeños Productores



Thank you to Jeff Haydu and Leon Zamosc for their feedback on this paper and guidance throughout the research process.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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