Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Dr. Mokhtar Bouba

Second Advisor

Dr. Kelly Teamey


International corporate seed companies have manipulated Paraguay’s politics and agricultural development since 1995, increasing Paraguay’s use and protection of genetically modified seeds, while also undermining farmers’ control over their production and financial stability by almost eliminating markets for heirloom varieties. Paraguay continues to be excluded from research critiquing the effects of neoliberal policies on global agricultural systems. Therefore, this study aims to illuminate small-scale farmers’ experiences and bring Paraguay into the global conversation on seed sovereignty by critically examining the effects Paraguay’s national seed policies have on small-scale farmer’s development opportunities and resilience to climate change. This question guides the research: How does the political relationship between seeds and farmers influence the environmental and developmental landscape in Paraguay?

Influenced by Indigenous, Political Ecology, and Sen’s Development as Freedom frameworks, this Capstone took an ethnographic perspective using five case studies with small-scale farmers. Four policies related to seed production, commercialization, quality control and distribution were then analyzed using Baachi’s problematization lens. Interviews with government officials connected to national and regional seed distribution networks informed the creation of a seed map, highlighting disparities of accessibility between hybrid, genetically modified and heirloom seeds. The main themes that emerged from analyses highlighted issues related to seed access, quality, and control, demonstrating how the manifestation of colonial development has affected every step of farmers’ production process. It is hoped that this research can act as a catalyst for future research on the topic of seed sovereignty in Paraguay, specifically research including indigenous populations and employing strong feminist theoretical orientation.

Key Words: Paraguay, Seed Sovereignty, Development as Freedom, Climate Change


Development Studies | Food Security | Latin American Studies | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation


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