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  4. AgroEcos: Research partnership for an agroecology-based solidarity economy

AgroEcos: Research partnership for an agroecology-based solidarity economy

AgroEcos website:

Tri-lingual facility: see options in the upper right-hand corner


This research partnership will:  

•    identify and strengthen community capacities for an agroecology-based solidarity economy

•    develop, combine, test and refine research methods for making those community capacities more visible, as a basis to strengthen them through multi-stakeholder knowledge co-production (diálogos de saberes)

The participatory research method will enhance community organisations’ capacities.  Their wide participation will enrich multi-stakeholder knowledge-exchange for such capacities. Lower-income agroecological communities will formulate and demand support measures, enhancing their capacities for an agroecology-based solidarity economy.  

The project's abbreviation AgroEcos indicates practices that have echoes, expansion and replication across places as well as across time.


Les Levidow, Open University
Andrea Berardi, Open University
Comunidad de Estudios Jaina (CEJ) Bolivia: Carlos Vacaflores and Claudia Pilar Lizárraga Araniba
Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) Brazil: Professor Davis Sansolo and Dr Mônica Schiavinatto, working with the Observatório dos Territórios Sustentáveis e Saudáveis (OTSS), Dr Edmundo Gallo


Funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Global Challenges Research Fund,  no. AH/T004274/1.



Community-based agroecological innovation has been helping to achieve sustainable, socially equitable development, especially in Latin America. Agroecological practices depend on farmers’ ecological knowledge of locally available resources, especially biodiversity and nutrient cycling.  Through short food-supply chains, primary producers build close relations with consumers, conserve food’s nutritional value and retain more of the value that they add, thus benefiting lower-income groups.  Such practices provide a basis for an economia solidaria (solidarity economy), i.e. cooperative relationships among producers, consumers and civil society groups; together they demand and use support measures from governments. 

Project focus 

Research teams from three countries (UK, Bolivia and Brazil as above) will jointly deepen their interdisciplinary skills for participatory action research with community organisations developing agroecological innovation.  They bring diverse expertise for addressing real-world problems in order to overcome the distance between specialized and lay knowledges, as well as between research and policy.  Each research team will form an action-research group with members of agroecological communities within the Valle Central (Bolivia), Brazil’s Litoral Norte and Brazil’s Baixada Santista.  


The research partnership will plan a series of three workshops to be held in each case-study area. The first workshop will introduce and plan the research approach, based on prior informed consent of participants. The second workshop will develop capacity-building and knowledge-sharing methods which participants will then apply and evaluate. The third workshop will attract many more participants to discuss the results of the action research interventions, the project’s indicators of success and practical use of the research method.

Latin American and International Advisory Panels will maintain contact with wider networks.  The project-wide final conference will bring together representatives of community participants, support organisations, public authorities, other national organisations and Latin American contributors to the FAO’s agroecology programme.

Project outputs will emphasise methods relevant to agroecological innovation of traditional communities for a solidarity economy. The outputs will be designed as media tools to gain impact locally, regionally or internationally.  

  • Methodology handbook for practitioners
  • Report from each pilot case-study 
  • Report on the novel research methodology demonstrating its implementation in practice through the pilot case studies, lessons from them and wider implications (in English)
  • Films on the communities’ knowledge co-production processes, to be commissioned from professional film-makers. Bilingual subtitles will be added
  • Summaries: The printed outputs will be brochures summarising each of the longer outputs above, including a bar code for easily downloading them from the project website
  • Papers will be presented at numerous professional conferences and published in academic journals 

All these outputs will be in Spanish and/or Portuguese, except for the final report and its summary in English.  

Within the AgroEcos project, the UK-Brazil partnership has been awarded a GCRF Networking Grant for a workshop entitled, 'Food sovereignty through agroecology in South America: Interdisciplinary methods for participatory action research'.  In the preparatory process, participants will apply and learn from such methods in several countries before the workshop. It is being planned for Autumn 2021. 


Les Levidow

Contact us

To find out more about our work, or to discuss a potential project, please contact:

International Development Research Office
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)1908 858502