Maria Margarita is studying in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development to complete her PhD with Dr. Silvia Sarapura. Maria Margarita received her Master’s of Sustainable Development Practice from the University of Florida. Her research looks at food security and coca production in Colombia.
Colombia has been in civil war for the entirety of Maria Margarita’s life. Conflict across the country has left many areas impoverished, and desperate for any means of income. Despite being illegal, coca production is the main source of money for many Colombians. Many areas of Colombia are food insecure because they continue to grow coca, but not produce. In the past few decades, coca production has skyrocketed. As one of the largest cocaine consuming countries in the world, Canada has directly contributed to this increasing demand.
Maria Margarita’s research explores the links between food security and peace-building in the dynamic context of the coca producing areas in Colombia. She wants to know why some people, youth specifically, enter the coca business while others do not, and how can we divert these people into other industries. By working towards food security and environmental sustainability, Maria Margarita believes we can start to bridge the inequalities present in Colombia.
Maria Margarita knows that to make change and solve problems, we need to adapt an interdisciplinary approach. There is no silver bullet for these types of large-scale issues. Working with Arrell Food Institute will position Maria Margarita to work with industry leaders in many areas, and eventually develop a holistic solution.