This Spanish - English translation was carried out by the translator Vanessa Johnson for the PerMondo project, an initiative which provides free translations for NGOs. PerMondo is sponsored and run by the translation agency Mondo Agit. Proofreader: Hannah Cowdrey.
Project: Design and Implementation of Social Appropriation Strategies Related to Agroecological Systems Established in the Municipalities of Riofrío, Calima - El Darién, and Trujillo in the Department of Valle del Cauca.
In 2011 COLCIENCIAS launched the 581 call for proposals to create a group of projects focused on the design and implementation of methodologies and conceptual tools that favor the social appropriation of STI (science, technology, and innovation) in specific communities through alliances with research groups and organizations that promote social appropriation in the country and subject communities through their active and committed participation in the entire process.
Since the call required an alliance with a research group, ECOFONDO contacted the National University of Colombia at Palmira, whose Agroecology Research Group had offered important contributions and support to rural families and communities in the department of Valle del Cauca through the implementation of technical advice to small productions of agroecological systems, strengthening agroecological training in rural and indigenous communities, and using research to confirm the importance of agroecological technologies.
During the formulation of the proposal it became clear that the sum of the work of the two organizations had allowed agroecology to gain ground as a viable alternative in communities faced with the necessities of sovereignty and food security at the local, regional, and national levels, to mitigate the increase in problems of erosion, salinization, compression, and desertification resulting from unsuitable conventional agricultural practices.
ECOFONDO and the National University of Columbia at Palmira came forward with the project “Design and Implementation of Social Appropriation Strategies Related to Agroecological Systems Established in the Municipalities of Riofrío, Calima - El Darién, and Trujillo in the department of Valle del Cauca" under the topic sustainable use of natural resources in productive activities related to agriculture, which became one of the six approved proposals.
Period of Implementation
May 22, 2013 - May 21, 2014.
Design, evaluate, and systematize social appropriation strategies from the transfer of knowledge and communication related to the agroecological systems established in the municipalities of Riofrío, Calima - El Darién, and Trujillo.
Evaluate the social appropriation strategies that have emerged from the processes of establishing agroecological systems in the municipalities of Ríofrío, Calima - El Darién, and Trujillo in the department of Valle del Cauca.
Design social appropriation strategies from the transfer of knowledge and communication related to the processes of establishing agroecological systems by recognizing the processes that have been carried out and the social, cultural, and economic contexts.
Test the implementation of the social appropriation strategies reflected in this process.
Develop agreements between communities, social organizations, academic institutions, and the State related to the social appropriation strategies involved in the establishment of agroecological systems.
Systematize the entire process developed in this process.
25 rural families in La Italia, Miravalle, Puerto Fenicia, Palmas, La Vigorosa, La Camelia, Salónica, Arauca, and in the small town of Sonora. These family groups participated in the processes of conservation, transformation, and commercialization of food and agricultural products in the municipalities of Riofrío, Calima - El Darién, and Trujillo in the department of Valle del Cauca, as an alternative in building sustainable development.
Implemented strategies of social appropriation.
Once the agroecological systems had been defined and analyzed, appropriation strategies to be implemented were determined with the purpose of being validated by the rural families. These strategies were:
Socialization of the results of the analysis of the established agroecological systems as a feedback strategy, via zonal meetings.
Prioritization of problematic aspects of crop health and soil sensitivity. These aspects make up the thematic content for the implementation of social appropriation strategies by sharing and spreading knowledge with workshops that combine theory and practice.
Reinforcement of the importance of commercialization in agroecological processes through a strategy of experiential reinforcement based on sharing experiences as an educational strategy.
Also, since the project encouraged the interaction of diverse types of knowledge (academic, investigative, and traditional knowledge, among others), an academic seminar was planned.
The strategies of social appropriation of agroecological knowledge that are applied depend on agreements between those who manage different types of knowledge; on the one hand, the researchers and academics must recognize the everyday problems that farmers face and apply their knowledge to these problems, and on the other hand, the farmers must incorporate new knowledge and technologies in their agroecological management.
The interaction that academics and researchers have with the small farmers make the former more aware of what everyday life is like for the rural families and demonstrates to the latter that knowledge that comes from research can help solve their problems.
The project participants (25 rural families) showed that the learning strategies that facilitate the social appropriation of agroecological knowledge are, in order:
Knowledge dialogue (in groups and person to person). In the knowledge dialogue, the participants end up talking about the things that they do on their land, which expresses appropriation. The knowledge dialogues are informal meetings with a few people for a few hours, during which traditional food or drink is shared to alleviate the heat. The people feel comfortable expressing their opinions in these spaces where the audience is not very large and it is easy to take turns speaking and respect the ideas of others.
Exchange of experiences. Also associated with the knowledge dialogue and with visual memory, which are strong skills among rural people who have lacked academic means of appropriating knowledge. They consider this strategy to be of vital importance since it provides a space for knowledge feedback, where lived experiences come into play with the circulation of knowledge. Its essence lies in the way that knowledge is gained through practice, through direct knowledge of the spaces where they carry out their daily activities, in which some will find similarities and differences.
Theoretical and practical workshop. Involves an extensive demonstration of method in an organized and sequential way, which is also associated with the farmers’ visual memory.
Advice on the farm. The farmers expressed a preference for the transfer of knowledge to be carried out by different organizations in public and in private on their land.
Regarding the concept of agroecology, it was agreed that without denying that it is a science, it should not be delimited by purely scientific arguments and its effects should not be classified within a theoretical and scientific framework in a way that would make it possible to discredit someone’s agro-ecological efforts if they are not classified within that outline or do not recognize its conceptual, theoretical, technical, and scientific framework. This reflection led the participants to make important contributions regarding some components of agroecology as well as the concept itself. Some participants belonging to ASODUENDE define agroecology as: a system of production that implements friendly practices to seek a balance in the environment, utilizes agricultural systems to simulate the structure of natural ecosystems, and contributes to the well-being of all and to the development of communities in different aspects: social, cultural, environmental, and economic (Asoduende, 2014).
In addition, they show that the process of agroecological restructuring is different from conventional models of production because in agroecology, there is no information technology or manual for the practice of food production; it is built every day through research, farmers’ observations, and communities’ cultural heritage, which is a way of life that comes from continuously sharing knowledge and goods with families and neighbors and caring for and respecting the natural resources that are the basis of production (Asoduende, 2014).