Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Kanthi Athukorala


This capstone examines food sovereignty in the South Caribbean region of Talamanca, Costa Rica. Talamanca is an area with a strong tradition of autonomy and farming and has remarkably diverse in habitants including several indigenous tribes, the BriBri, Cabecer, Kekoldi and Taini, as well as Afro- Caribbean settlers who came mainly from Jamaica, Panama and Columbia. This paper explores Talamanca amidst modernization, how the regions residents, local farmers, and organizations contribute to and perceive the state of the local food sovereignty, how food systems have changed over time, and how Talamancans hope to shape their future. The inquiry included several qualitative interviews, a literature review, collection and analysis of pamphlets and flyers as well as site visits to local farms and organizations. My approach is to explore these issues as I have heard expressed by the community, with the community, in hopes that an informed understanding of these issues will help Talamancans determine the direction of their development.

This paper challenges our current agricultural policy that views agriculture as an economic activity seeking efficiency and profit over livelihood, taking the family and community, the stability, out of the farm and replacing it with external inputs and specialization that result in dependency, ecological and cultural damage, and a precarious food system that lacks diversity. This paper and provides insight into farming communities in Talamanca working in solidarity to protect and strengthen their own food sovereignty as part of an alternative and a solution to issues that many face across the globe.


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agricultural Science | Growth and Development | Natural Resource Economics | Sustainability


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