Initiative Result:

“Disruptive Seeds” Approach to Radically Ignite Guatemala’s Food System Transformation through Local, Bottom-Up Solutions

Eighty-five percent of the Guatemalan population are either poor or on the brink of poverty –particularly vulnerable to it are the rural indigenous communities, women, and children.  

Among the indigenous population, 79 percent are poor, with 40 percent living in extreme poverty. Meanwhile, women and children in Guatemala face discrimination and unequal access to resources and opportunities, limiting their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families, as well as access healthcare, education, and basic services. 

Transformative change in the food system stands to benefit Guatemala’s marginalized communities. With climate change threatening to put millions more people at risk of food and nutrition insecurity by 2050, it is crucial to address inequities and unsustainable practices that will potentially multiply the harm to these vulnerable groups.  

To address the unsustainable but dominant systems that disenfranchise vulnerable groups in Guatemala, researchers have employed the “Disruptive Seeds” approach. This is a framework that identifies niche initiatives or practices that exist (as a prototype and in marginal form) that could potentially grow in impact through actively disrupting currently dominant but unsustainable, incumbent systems and associated actors.  

As part of the process, both researchers and participants will contribute to new insights, and collaborate in small groups representing different sectors, disciplines, stakeholder groups and perspectives. These discussions aim to envision a desirable future in which a particular disruptive seed has become dominant and thus, part of the new regime. They will also explore and explain how power shifts will take place that are required for the transformation from the current incumbent regime to the future envisioned.  

In the first phase, researchers engaged with key Guatemalan and regional-level stakeholders to identify disruptive seeds in Guatemala, which include candidates such as:  

  • Plataforma Agraria, a multisectoral movement that focuses on political communication, ecological recovery of (indigenous) lands, resistance against unsustainable structures, promoting social justice, and advocating public policy proposals based on the demands and needs of rural communities, from the local to national level. 
  • 48 Cantones de Totonicapán, the self-governing indigenous communities in the municipality of Totonicapán, which are responsible for the management and conservation of 21,000 hectares of communal forests and 2,000 water sources, using a model of ancestral territorial management for the good and responsible use of nature. Their mission is to strive for autonomy and self-determination of their communities, people and lands.  
  • The Comité Campesino del Altiplano, an Indigenous and peasant organization that fights for access to land, defense of territory, workers’ rights and agrarian justice. It supports more than 150 Maya Q’eqchi’ communities that have been repressed and dispossessed of their lands or are immersed in conflicts over land tenure.  
  • Colectivo Ecologista Madre Selva, an environmental organization that aims to protect natural resources and biodiversity, and to support traditionally excluded, mostly Indigenous populations that are most affected by environmental degradation. They assist communities in constructing small hydroelectric plants and other sustainable structures. 

    Potential seeds are then rigorously assessed and will be prioritized through a five-point scoring system:  

    1. Can we consider them a seed?  
    2. Are they disruptive? Do they challenge current power structures? 
    3. Are they related to food systems? 
    4. Are they focused on improving the livelihoods of Guatemala´s most vulnerable? (i.e., Women, Youth, Indigenous People, Campesinos) 
    5. Are they taking place in one of Guatemala´s most climate-vulnerable regions? (e.g., Western Highlands [Altiplano] and Dry Corridor) 
    6. Are they scalable? 

    The researchers have identified a longlist of 50 potentially disruptive seeds and will now assess these initiatives. These will be tested and developed further through a series of participatory pilot workshops with vulnerable communities.