Guerra, J. Blesh, J. Filho, A. and Wittman, H. 2017. Pathways to agroecological management through mediated markets in Santa Catarina, Brazil. Elem Sci Anth, 5: 67
Agroecology, as a social movement and scientific discipline, applies ecological principles to the design and management of agricultural systems to improve environmental outcomes and livelihoods for farmers and rural communities. However, little research to date has assessed the policy mechanisms that could facilitate increased adoption of agroecological management practices. We investigated if and how public food procurement programs that provide financial incentives for organic and agroecological production can mitigate key constraints to agroecological transition. We explored the experience of participants in Brazil’s National School Feeding Program (PNAE) in Santa Catarina, which offers both a structured market for small-scale family farmers and a price premium for certified agroecological production systems. We found that the PNAE provides an economic incentive for small-scale farmers to begin an agroecological transition by creating a price-differentiated market that is otherwise absent in the regional context. However, without external network linkages – such as participation in farmers’ associations, cooperatives, and non-governmental agricultural extension programs that support agroecological practices – the influence of PNAE is limited in stimulating a broader scaling up of agroecological production.