Tracing a Tropical Mangrove Food System in Times of Globalised Change

By: C. Julián Idrobo   Katherine Turner  

Tropical mangrove ecosystems provide key benefits and resources, such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, erosion buffering for coastal zones and food and fuel production. In spite of these contributions, the local populations that inhabit this ecosystem are rarely the direct recipients of such benefits and resources. Increasingly these dynamics are extending into the local food system as well. Most of the foodstuffs produced in mangroves are consumed elsewhere and a considerable proportion of what is consumed locally is imported from far away. Based on a case study conducted in the mangrove community of Sivirú on the northern coast of the Colombian Pacific, we examine the local food system by tracing the inward and outward flows of foodstuffs. We find that food production occurs in three main subsystems that in turn are linked to specific distribution routes and markets. Cockles, fish, and coconut are key foodstuffs that are traded in extra-local markets. Rice, which is a local staple and primarily used for internal consumption, now depends on certified seeds that are imported into the community. Other foodstuffs, such as plantain, forest fruits and herbs are only consumed internally and remain to a great extent independent. In spite of the productivity and diversity of the local ecosystem, recent decades have seen growing dependence on imported foods for local consumption. These deep connections with regional and international markets are examples of how globalisation has blurred the lines between the local and global even in a community as geographically isolated as Sivirú.

Globalised Change, Tropica Mangrove, Cockles, Colombian Pacific, Globalisation
Food Production and Sustainability
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

C. Julián Idrobo

Assistant Professor, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
Cundinamarca, Colombia

Figuring out human-environment relations and the multiple values that hold them together. Interested in small-scale fisheries and coastal social-ecological systems. 

Dr. Katherine Turner

Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Canada
B.C., Canada

I am an SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria and hold a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from the University of Manitoba (2016). My interests center on the use of biocultural resources for rural and community economic development, particularly related with food cultures and food systems. I have examined these issues in Canada and Latin America. My current project focuses on food sovereignty-related territorial struggles of Afrocolombian communities on the Pacific Coast and the relationships between efforts to realize their self-determined development objectives and biocultural heritage promotion strategies in local and extra-local markets.