Feeding the people in times of Pandemic: The Food Sovereignty Approach in Nicaragua

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By Rita Jill Clark-Gollub (Washington), Erika Takeo (Managua), and Avery Raimondo (Los Angeles)

Original article published in Council on Hemispheric Affairs

“A nation that cannot feed itself is not free.”
Fausto Torrez, Nicaraguan Rural Workers Association

An array of UN agencies is predicting a global hunger pandemic triggered by COVID-19 lockdowns, with the head of the World Food Program stating that there is “a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”[1] At least 10 million more Latin Americans are expected to join the 3.4 million who were already experiencing chronic food insecurity.[2] These devastating effects will be long-term, as each percentage point drop in global GDP is expected to cause 0.7 million more children to be stunted from undernutrition.[3] There are clear signs that the food shortages have already arrived, as flags indicating hunger are spotted outside homes from Colombia to the Northern Triangle of Central America,[4] while violently repressed hunger protests have occurred in places such as Honduras[5] and Chile.[6] As a street vendor in El Salvador put it, “If the virus doesn’t kill us, hunger will.”[7]

But in the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, there are no hunger flags flying. The market stalls are stocked, customers are buying,  and prices are stable. Nicaraguan small farmers produce almost all the food the nation consumes, and have some left over for export. We will examine how this is possible.

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