Nicaragua crisis: the perspective of a Fair Trade coffee co-op
News from Nicaragua | Monday, 25 June 2018 |
Since 2002, NSC has worked with co-operatives in Nicaragua through promoting awareness of and understanding between Nicaraguan small scale farmers and UK Fair Trade activists.
One of these co-operatives is CECOCAFEN is an umbrella organisation based in the northern Nicaraguan Department of Matagalpa that brings together over 2,100 small scale farmers organised into eleven co-operatives.
Their main sources of income is coffee which is exported through Fair Trade and fruit and vegetables and other crops grown for family consumption and to sell locally.
Another important source of income was eco tourism which contributed to environmental protection by providing families with extra income to invest in their communities and farms, enabling them to live more sustainably.
CECOCAFEN reports that the crisis that Nicaragua faces is having a dramatic impact on the livelihoods and well being of the farmers and their families.
Summary of the impact
Although most of the violence is in the cities, farmers are affected in the following ways:
* This is a key time of the year in the coffee production cycle: the rainy season has just begun and farmers have to manage the cultivation and fertilisation of the bushes as well as monitoring infestations of insects and diseases. If these activities are not carried out in a timely manner, it will mean a significant decline in production with a knock on impact in subsequent years.
l Road blocks on the main roads and streets are preventing the movement of staple foods and vegetables, this is affecting the supply of basic food stuffs and shortages are occurring. These road blocks have also become the focus of violent clashes and have affected producers’ rights to travel to sell their goods. There has also been damage to vehicles and ill treatment of the occupants.
* Public transport has stopped running which means people having to walk long distances between transport links.
* Farmers and their families are being forced to stay at home in their communities, a violation of their human right to free movement, to work and manage their affairs.
* The stifling of the economy has meant serious disruption in the functioning of banks, the commercial sector, government offices and services so that loans cannot processed. This means that farmers are not able to access resources which are necessary to support coffee production.
* The police are not as visible as before so crime has increased in both cities and the countryside
* Transport difficulties mean that CECOCAFEN support staff are not able to reach farmers to provide advice on how best to ensure a good harvest.
* Because of the violence tourism has collapsed which means that the eco tourism programmes as important source of income for some small farmers is at a standstill.
Hopes for the future: peace through dialogue
‘We have faith in the efforts being made to encourage dialogue and understanding in the interests of the country’s wellbeing and the work being undertaken to ensure the functioning of government.’
‘We hope that the international community will be properly informed about events and that it will declare itself to be in favour of promoting the objectives of peace.’
‘We hope to be able to reactivate our productive and commercial activities as soon as possible.’
‘In spite of the current damage and adverse prognosis, we in CECOCAFEN are continuing our work with families and their organisations at grassroots level so that we can help their farms in different and innovative ways in order to increase their productivity and to reach their target yields.
‘We are supporting them in defending their human rights to life, to work and to sustain the livelihoods of their families and communities.’