ifoam96.gif (1141 bytes)
Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract front page
Subject index
Athor index


Socio-cultural sustainability in traditional agriculture of Bolivia S7

Rist, Stephan,

Agroecología Universidad Cochabamba, AGRUCO, Faculty of Agriculture UMSS, Cochabamba, Bolivia.

See also:
News from:


Based on the research and extension work for over 10 years in traditional societies in the Bolivian Andes we will show that the at present practised sustainable development gives priority to the ecological aspects and pays very little attention to the integration of socio- cultural criterion.

The criterion applied for the »IFOAM-Standards« reveal a similar situation: while the ecological aspects are quite well adapted, the socio-cultural criterion are still to general and biased by ethnocentric perspectives on culture. We therefore like to analyse the following questions: 1) Is it possible to define socio-cultural criterion for sustainability at a global level? 2) What interrelations exist between the world market of organic products and traditional rural and mainly non-western societies? 3) How can socio-cultural criterion for sustainability be defined, based on a participatory process at local level, without falling back on ethnocentric approaches?

First step: regarding the integration of ecological and socio-cultural criterion we will start with a comparison of the traditional agriculture systems and the ecological criterion for a sustainable development showing a surprising coincidence.

Second step: we will analyse the social relations, the ethic and the concept of life expressed in the traditional agriculture.

Third step: we will identify indicators in order to recognise the degree of compatibility of modifications or innovations with the socio-culturalsystem. In the case of IFOAM we suggest that the destination of the production represents a socio-cultural criteria to evaluate whether the production of organic products, produced for the (world) market, affects the availability of products designated for the strengthening of social and cultural relations such as reciprocity relations, barter, communal contributions, feast and rituals.

Conclusion.Since it is impossible to define universal socio-cultural criterion the IFOAM-Standards should agree upon a procedure to identify these criterion according to the own characteristics of each individual culture.