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Supporting policy with scientific evidence

We mobilise people and resources to create, curate, make sense of and use knowledge to inform policymaking across Europe.

Publication | 2021

Emerging responses to the COVID-19 crisis from family farming and the agroecology movement in Latin America – A rediscovery of food, farmers and collective action

CONTEXT: In Latin America, the so-called informal sector associated with family farming and the agroecology movements were instrumental at coping with and adapting to the COVID-19 challenges. OBJECTIVE: To assess the nature and extent of the early initiatives (first three months) deployed by this informal sector to cope with and adapt to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food production and consumption in several countries of the region. METHODS: We used key used informant consultation (n = 168), an online survey (n = 125) and the detailed characterisation of regional case studies (n = 4). Textual data was analysed and categorised using Reinert's method, combined with similarity analysis. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: 65% of the initiatives were 'local' in terms of geographic reach, 30% of them started within the first month after the pandemic and most of them were urban or urban-rural, whereas only 29% of them were exclusively rural. The analysis of the textual information captured through the survey revealed four major types of initiatives that were deployed or adapted in response to COVID-19: 1. Direct producer-to-consumer food sales, generally existing before the COVID-19 crisis but adapted/strengthened to cope with it; 2. Short value chains that linked rural and urban organisations and individuals supported by national or local governments, readapted through new health and safety protocols; 3. Newly developed support and training programs on sustainable food production for self-consumption or local commerce, in rural, urban or peri-urban settings; 4. Food assistance and aid initiatives focusing on vulnerable populations, relying on solidarity networks associated with the agroecological movement. SIGNIFICANCE: The pandemic highlighted the key role played by local food systems and value chains and the need to strengthening them through public policies, as a way to build food resilience in times of crisis.