Associations of small producers: cultivation of principles, values and harmonious relationship with nature

A deficiency found points to the shortage of information sources in the country with in-depth analysis concerning the numerous cases of small associations that are icons of this movement in the country. Many are known for their products, but not for their history, their origins and their conformation, especially to the obstacles of discrimination in several ways, such as race, gender, income, religion, access to education, political representation, food and housing.

In the Andean communities, the fulfillment of ancestral values, such as ama quilla, ama llulla, ama shua, which means not to be idle, not to lie, not to steal, has united them even by building their own justice, recognized in Article 1 of the Constitution of 2008.

The other major aspect is the veneration of the Pacha Mama as a source of life for the communities. Therefore, the communities celebrate several times a year as a symbol of gratitude for the crops (El Comercio, 2017). This environment derives in the appearance of associations of small producers.

Two Andean values stand out: minga and pamba mesa, whose spiritual essence in the group deepens associativity. “La minga” (WordPress, 2008) translated into a mutual community support for the required activities is the focus on a physical constructive nature, such as irrigation channels, neighborhood roads, communal houses, construction works and repair of each member’s property and so on, and also to support in planting and harvesting of the fruits of the land. In addition, the pamba mesa (Marquez, 2015) or sharing food in a communal meal is where everyone contributes with food and they enjoy it in group known as mingas or festivities.

Briefly, the Andean vision of Sumak Kawsay or Buen Vivir derives a conception of the ancestral life of the Andean people that has remained in force in many indigenous communities until today. In Quichua, “Sumak” means the ideal, the beautiful, the good, the realization, and “kawsay” means life, in reference to a dignified life, in harmony, with a balance between the universe and the human being, the community and family. These practices have led to the use of agroecology for planting (Altieri, 2010), development and harvest of agricultural products. Also, they use the so-called social technologies, whose identification has also been enhanced in Latin America.

Field-city, exchange relations

There are full of divergences. The countryside subsidizes the cities based on delivering products at low prices. Even it does not matter in sacrificing the countryside in order to increase the well-being of the city. In

Fair trade focus of social joint 215 addition, they demand clean and nutritious products and so on. It is not exclusive to Ecuador, but to almost all countries; the presence of unequal relations between farmers in the countryside with consumers in cities is always latent. Peasant products have a propensity to be acquired at the lowest prices, reducing to levels below production costs. In the imaginary city, the farmer is free of commitments and it demands less incomes; therefore, they have to pay the minimum for the products.

In the country, the greatest poverty is evidenced in the countryside, precisely because of this structure of prices and lack of economic resources, inputs, land, information, product development, quality, productive capacity, specialized training, organization and so on. They live daily with unfair competition, the exclusionary market, irresponsible consumption habits and insufficient comprehensive public policies that reactivate the production and fair marketing of surpluses. In this difficult reality, producers access and remain in the market under unequal conditions. However, through fair trade rural producers receive a higher price for their products and also sales to the Global North are generated. In fact, they are rewarded with an extra contribution: In the food field, healthy, organic, safe and nutritious products are being offered.

Products and services of a fair trade: quality, volumes and local markets

Achieving appropriate volumes constitute an issue in this area, and many times it has not been possible to meet the requirements for the domestic market and even more for the overseas market. Therefore, the requirement to work in networks is vital. Various efforts made to obtain an entity of its own, which is responsible for the certification and promotion of fair trade in Ecuador. It has not been possible for various reasons; among them, the lack of political decision from government control agencies, the lack of organization and management of producer organizations and the little interest of the private company that minimizes the expectation of development within this marketing system. The questions also go through whether the products are certified nationally or at the local territory level or being the organizations as a whole. These argumentations work among fair trade actors, the public sector and the academy, striving to find the viable and adequate solution for producers and consumers.

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