Peasants, potatoes and pesticides : heterogentiy in the context of agricultural modernization in the Highland Andes of Ecuador

Paredes Chauca, M.C.


Based on community-level research carried out between 2002 and 2009, this dissertation examines agricultural modernization in Ecuador as a combination of agrarian reform accompanied by fundamental policy shift towards intensification through large-scale promotion of agro-industrial technologies tied with commercial production and market integration. In particular, the study explores how different actors struggle to modify, counteract and maintain modernization policies in order to advance local interests, thereby leading to distinct modes of production or “farming styles”. Concentrating on pesticide use and risks associated with peasant farming patterns, the dissertation employs qualitative and quantitative methods in describing and explaining heterogeneity, leading to the identification of four prominent styles: Tradicionales, Seguros, Arriesgados and Experimentadores. In terms of productivity, human health and the environment, the production patterns of the Tradicionales and Seguros out perform production modes based largely on externally based knowledge and technology, thereby representing a promising positive-sum scenario for policy reform.