Food Security & Sovereignty in Las Segovias, Nicaragua

The Food Security and Sovereignty in Las Segovias Project is a collaboration between CAN and our partner organization PRODECOOP, RL, a coffee farmer cooperative organization in Northern Nicaragua. The project, launched in 2009, aims to improve food security and reduce seasonal hunger among 1500 smallholder coffee farming families in Northern Nicaragua. This will be achieved through the following strategies: improved food availability, access, and food utilization through CADAs, seed banks, farm diversification and experimentation, and organizational capacity building.

IMPACTS AND RESEARCH FINDINGS

  • 1420 families have improved access to food during the thin months.
  • Thin months have been reduced from an average of 3 months to 2 months since 2010.
  • Chronic malnutrition has been reduced from 43.2% of children under 5 to 25%.

LESSONS LEARNED AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS

The strategies implemented by the project are improved food availability, access, and food utilization through CADAs, seed banks, farm diversification and experimentation, and organizational capacity building. Nevertheless elimination of the thin months will require more continuous effort, and reaching every single family, their cooperatives and communities will take more time and adjustments, especially with the impact of la roya and anthracnose that has affected 100% of coffee farming families at different levels of severity.   The crisis has deepened with in 2013-2014 but the project activities are moving toward a positive direction. Family farmers have been open to the application of agroecological methods to the mitigation of risk associated with climate change. There is a need to promote strategies for the preservation of local and heirloom varieties, especially in light of climate change adaptation and communities’ ability to have food security in the midst of it. The negative impact of lack of water access, and climate change, on food and agricultural systems, is a topic that is impossible to avoid. In July 2013, the research team started a process of collective reflection in order to redefine the ways to successfully resist in the future climate change negative impacts and to improve food security through the construction of resilient food and agricultural systems.

Outcomes

Six local CADAs and one Central CADA have been established and are used to distribute corn through a food loan strategy to mitigate hunger during the thin months.
Seven seedbanks are operating and helping seed production, especially corn and beans, mitigating the impacts of harvest loss and responding to the farmers’ seed demand with efficiency and availability of quality seed. Seed banks are a key element of the strategies to guarantee quality heirloom seed at all times, since we are convinced that the foundation of food security lies in the constant maintenance of the supply of high-quality seed that in turn ensures the continuous availability of food and access to it among the families involved at the base cooperative level.
Production diversification is being applied in different combinations of land use areas, including patio, coffee field, and milpa. Diagnostic data showed the importance of fruit trees to reducing hunger during the thin months. 200 farmers received an additional 13,200 fruit trees and 400 farmers have received 9 varieties of vegetables, and 180 basic grains farmers have received crops to associate with basic grains such as sweet potatoes (18,000), plantain starts (16,000), and cassava as part of the diversification strategy. Diversification has been linked to experimentation, with establishment of green manures and leguminous seeds, as well as soil conservation techniques such as hedgerows, ditches, terraces, dead barriers, bezels etc. plants and/or native species in each zone which can provide multiple uses, as well as the development of different organic fertilizers, including biofertilizer and wild microorganisms that can improve soil fertility in both food and coffee production areas.
Metal silos have been distributed among households in four cooperatives, and have improved grain storage methods and reduced rates of grain spoilage and loss.
As part of the PAR strategy, a Spanish-language poster that summarizes the main findings from the 2012 diagnostic study, core strategies and actions implemented in the project, and ongoing reflection was published and was presented and analyzed and disseminated among five cooperative members in July 2013.

Related Publications

2017

Bacon, Christopher M., William A. Sundstrom, Iris T. Stewart, David Beezer. (2017). Vulnerability to Cumulative Hazards: Coping with the Coffee Leaf Rust Outbreak, Drought, and Food Insecurity in Nicaragua. World Development, 93, 136–152. pdf

2016

Gómez, María Eugenia Flores, Christopher M. Bacon, Salatiel Valdivia, Misael Rivas, Ruddy Espinoza, Raúl Díaz, Erika Pérez. (2016). “Alimentación culturalmente preferida. Conocimiento local y transición agroecológica en Nicaragua.” LEISA Revista de Agroecologia (Peru), 32(2), 25–27. pdf.

2015

Bacon, C. M. (2015). Food sovereignty, food security and fair trade: the case of an influential Nicaraguan smallholder cooperatives. Third World Quarterly, 36(3), 469-488. pdf

Bacon, C.M., Rice, R. and Maryanski, H. (2015). Fair Trade Coffee and Environmental Sustainability in Latin America. In Raynolds, L.T. and Bennett, E. (Eds) Handbook of Research on Fair Trade, 388-404. Edward Elgar: UK. pdf

2014

Bacon, Christopher M., William Sundstrom, Maria Eugenia Flores Gomez, V. Ernesto Mendez, Rica Santos, Barbara Goldoftas, Ian Dougherty. Explaining the ‘hungry farmer paradox’: Smallholders and fair trade cooperatives navigate seasonality and change in Nicaragua’s corn and coffee markets. Global Environmental Change.
 
 

Las Segovias Food Security Poster

This poster was developed as a popular education tool to share the results of ongoing participatory research on FSS in the FSS in Las Segovias Project with participating communities, cooperatives, and farming families. It was developed with their participation and their input into the best ways to represent their own experiences with food insecurity and the thin months, and measures to address these problems.

Las Segovias Best Practices Guide

As part of the GMCR-funded project Food Security & Sovereignty in Las Segovias, Nicaragua, a Best Practices Guide with five volumes was developed around themes related to food security, including the Thin Months, Agroecology, Production Diversification, and Sustainable Food Production, Distribution, and Consumption Practices. The guide was developed through a process of collecting on-the-ground knowledge and perspectives on these themes, which were then formulated and organized into the five volumes, and then field-tested. It was developed as a tool for community and cooperative organizers working to promote local food security & sovereignty (FSS), and may also be useful to other organizations working in FSS.

Delicious Revolution: An Interview with Maria Eugenia Flores Gomez & Chris BaconMujeres+en+competencia+de+siembre+de+semillas

Maria Eugenia Flores Gomez is a social psychologist and community organizer with more than 15 years of experience working in Central America and California for peace, women rights, and food security. Chris Bacon, a professor at Santa Clara University, is an environmental social scientist whose work has focused on food security and food sovereignty in Northern Nicaragua, and more recently, in California.  He takes a participatory action research approach to his work, and is a professor at Santa Clara University.  Mari and Chris work together on the Food Security and Sovereignty in Las Segovias project in collaboration with the Community Agroecology Network and the PRODECOOP cooperatives in the mountains of Northern Nicaragua.  Mari and Chris talk to Devon Sampson about their collaboration born of revolution, solidarity, and participatory action research in rural Nicaragua.


 

Delicious Revolution is a show about food, culture and place. It’s produced by Chelsea Wills and Devon Sampson.

poster2

As part of the PAR strategy a Spanish-language poster that summarizes the main findings from the 2012 diagnostic study, core strategies and actions implemented in the project, and ongoing reflection was published.

Making-biofertilizer-Las-Segovias

Farmers are developing different organic fertilizers, including biofertilizer and wild microorganisms that can improve soil fertility in both food and coffee production areas.

Farmers-Las-Segovias

The Food Security and Sovereignty in Las Segovias Project, launched in 2009, aims to improve food security and reduce seasonal hunger among 1500 smallholder coffee farming families in Northern Nicaragua.

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