Simón Andrés Botero-Posada, Xavier Álvarez - Del Castillo, Leonardo Alberto Rios-Osorio


Background. Rural agri-food systems are responsible for the production of most of the food products consumed in urban centers, however, despite the current importance they have in the food systems of populations worldwide, their structure and functioning, both key aspects for understanding its sustainability, have not been studied enough. Objective. This study was aimed at describing the conditions associated to agri-food systems sustainability in rural communities based on the understanding of their structural and functional elements, through a systematic review of scientific literature. Methodology. A comprehensive search for original papers in three different databases, ScienceDirect, Scopus and PubMed, was carried out, filtering the results based on inclusion and exclusion criteria, and subsequently adding grey literature. Results. Our findings indicate that sustainability in these agri-food systems relies on socioecological interrelations, whose environmental and sociocultural aspects are more relevant than the principles of the market economy, which become a menace for these systems. One of our most relevant findings is the essential role of distribution networks for ensuring sustainability. Implications: It is necessary to assess the different categories defined in agri-food systems in order to define in indigenous and rural communities the adjustments they require to achieve sustainability. Conclusions. Rural agri-food systems behave as complex, adaptive systems, conditioned by the multiple factors and dimensions of their biophysical, sociocultural, and political environment, as well as by the role of gender in their functioning.


Agri-food system; smallholders; indigenous people; rural communities; sustainability.

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