Nicaragua, COVID-19, and food sovereignty
News from Nicaragua | Monday, 10 August 2020 |
…’this deadly virus has exposed the vulnerability of the globalised food system dominated by industrial agriculture, and the dangers it poses to all life forms. We must learn from this crisis and invest in building local, resilient and diverse food systems’. La Via Campesina
La Via Campesina is a global movement of over 200 million peasant farmers indigenous and Afro – descendant peoples and pastoralists. For nearly 30 years LVC has been calling for profound political and structural transformation globally to a food system based on access for everyone to healthy and affordable food; that values workers and producers; localises supply chains; and uses agroecological, sustainable farming methods that respect people and the planet.
As the immensity of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds the UN and other international agencies warn of the cataclysmic consequences for so many already impoverished by past international failures to address gross inequalities and chronic levels of poverty.
In April, World Food Programme director David Beasley warned that ‘there is a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.’
A July report by UNICEF, FAO, WFP and WHO on the global food security warned of that an additional 130 million people who could face chronic hunger by the end of 2020.
In this context, these reports call ‘ not only urgent action to address the hunger crisis but also to take the opportunity to shift to more sustainable food systems.’ UN General Secretary Antonio Gutieres. Other reports echo the calls of the LVC for resilience, developing local supply chains, self sufficiency, and agricultural production methods that protect people and the planet.
Nicaragua, as the second most impoverished country in the Americas after Haiti, faces major challenges not only from the virus but also the anticipated downturn in the economy.
This situation is greatly exacerbated by illegal US sanctions and other measures designed to remove the Sandinista government from power, measures that will in fact result in further impoverishing those already marginalised.
In contrast with other countries in the region, Nicaragua has a much higher level of resilience to withstand the impact. The country has a well-integrated, holistic commitment to achieving food sovereignty involving government agencies working alongside rural and urban communities.
The Ministry of the Family, Community, and Cooperative Economy (MEFCCA) and municipal governments work with farmers to improve access to local markets while technical institutes organise community seed banks, and provide training.
These government agencies working together with communities and social movements have enabled the country to achieve 80% self sufficiency in basic food including all of the beans, maize, fruit, vegetables, honey and dairy products. https://www.coha.org/feeding-the-people-in-times-of-pandemic-the-food-sovereignty-approach-in-nicaragua/
The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign is working in solidarity with the Rural Workers Association (ATC, a member organisation of LVC) on their programme of agroecology, food sovereignty, land rights, climate justice, gender equality, and the integration of of young people into farming. For information about webinars, videos, and articles highlighting the work of the ATC see www.nicaraguasc.org.uk
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the July,2020 newsletter of the Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA) https://enca.org.uk/