Two agricultural cooperatives in Paraguay illustrate different models of smallholders' collective livelihood struggles to enter international markets and achieve autonomy. One cooperative exports organic sugar and follows a strategy based on Fair Trade, independence from state bureaucracies, and alliances with international buyers and nongovernmental organizations. The other cooperative exports bananas to Argentina and follows a strategy based on free trade, regional market liberalization, and dependence on state bureaucracies. These cooperatives operate in a context of deep structural inequalities in which elements of a 35-year dictatorship mix with more recent regional and global integration and the consolidation of a democratic project. Examination of the structure in which they operate and the individual and collective agency of small producers reveals that, whether through free trade or Fair Trade, participation in global markets requires participation in debates on globalization and democracy and the redefinition of production processes to satisfy external markets that will allow small producers to make a reasonable living.
- Fair Trade
- Free trade
- Small-scale agriculture
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science