Explaining the development policy implementation gap: A case of a failed food sovereignty policy in Bolivia

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The food sovereignty concept has gained prominence in public policy discourses in the global South during the last decades. However, food sovereignty has contested definitions and is interpreted differently by conflicting societal interests. Consequentially, the translation of food sovereignty concepts into concrete policies and practices is often characterized by conflicts and controversies rooted in different institutional logics guiding the involved actors. In this article, we analyse how the logics of the corporatized agro-food system affected the local implementation of top-down state-induced public food sovereignty-based policies in Bolivia. We conducted a multiple-case study of public food procurement markets for school feeding programs involving three rural municipalities and small-scale producers in the Altiplano region. The data consists of 53 interviews conducted during 2011–2015. We found that corporate food regime logics influence the local policy implementation process in three ways. First, by framing the chosen policy design as neoliberal individualistic and transaction-based market-orientated. Second, by envisioning for the Aymara subsistence peasants a socially and culturally undesirable identity and class transformation; and thirdly, indirectly through the dependency of the school feed program on adjacent field-level institutions shaped by the corporate food regime logics. We conclude that the corporate food regime logics shaped the notion of what was considered legitimate practices and processes required for smallholders to access the public food procurement market, whereas their own conceptions aligned with food sovereignty principles were disregarded.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106216
JournalWorld Development
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

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