paraguay: stopping the rural exodus

Throughout Paraguay, the dominance of export-oriented agribusiness is driving a massive exodus from the rural areas, as many women, men and young people are obliged to leave their homes and territories in search of better living conditions in the cities.
paraguay: stopping the rural exodus

This exodus leads to rural depopulation and the abandonment of sustainable agricultural and other productive practices, weakening people’s sense of belonging and identity, and destroying communities. This is happening throughout the whole country but Cordillera de los Altos is particularly badly affected.


what happened?

Friends of the Earth Paraguay / Sobrevivencia worked with women and young leaders from peasant communities in Cordillera de los Altos to promote and facilitate the exchange of local and traditional knowledge and wisdom, with the aim of guaranteeing families’ livelihoods.


They organized workshops and other activities where participants, who came from families who had traditionally been peasants and craftspeople, were able to share skills.  


what changed?

The project made a small but significant contribution towards addressing the rural depopulation problem, by strengthening collective efforts to re-establish sustainable, just and diverse productive activities among peasant communities.


The workshops and other activities helped participants to recover their profound sense of belonging to their respective communities, and to re-establish key roles in local governance and decision. Participants were able to re-establish the conditions needed to produce healthy and organic food in their fields, and rediscovered traditional methods of making pottery, baskets and wooden handicrafts. They were also able to make better use of seasonal crops to feed their families, and to sell surplus produce through fair trade channels. A strong relationship was developed between consumers and producers, through a trading system based on solidarity and justice.


The project gave peasants a deeper understanding of the social, environmental, economic and political issues affecting their communities.


As a result of the return to agro-ecological farming methods, ecosystems are beginning to recover, bringing great benefits to a region that had been greatly damaged by extractive practices and as a result of cultural erosion and economic impoverishment. The recovery of ecosystems goes hand in hand with the availability of a greater diversity of natural materials for handicrafts.


what next?

By the end of this project, the government had not yet taken forward plans to incorporate agrarian reform and the promotion of organic agriculture in the framework of a National Environmental Policy. The current challenge is to mobilize peasant communities to demand these reforms and strengthen resistance to the current agribusiness model.


The transformation agenda is also key to strengthening resistance at the community level. FoE Paraguay will continue to work with women and young people to defend their livelihoods by creating and strengthening sustainable and diverse production and distribution systems based on solidarity and justice. The organization will also support them in their defense of their territories and collective rights.


with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs (dgis)


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