Rural to urban connection is building food sovereignty in NicaraguaMay 15, 2021
In spite of limited road and transportation access, farmers in rural Nicaragua are continuing to feed the country. Co-op systems are helping to ensure they continue to do so.
In Nicaragua, the COVID-19 pandemic made transportation between rural and urban regions harder than ever. Rural farmers lost one of their main sources of livelihood: selling their goods to city dwellers. Meanwhile in cities, workers were faced with inflated food prices, putting their food security at risk.
Through the COVID-19 emergency food security response fund from Global Affairs Canada and with support from SeedChange, the Federation of Cooperatives for Development (FECODESA) is tackling both of these problems.
Rural to urban connection building food sovereignty in Nicaragua
In September 2020, FECODESA set up 10 low-cost sales stands in five municipalities. These stands—called despensas or pantries—are helping several farmer co-ops and a number of individual farmers to continue selling their produce during the pandemic. At the same time, the pantries allow urban and peri-urban workers (folks on the edges of an urban area, but who aren’t quite rural) to access nutritious and affordable food during the COVID-19 crisis.
Smallholder farmers and consumers in Nicaragua, particularly women, are vulnerable to price volatility and market exploitation. In rural areas in the drought-prone Dry Corridor of Central America, farmers with insufficient resources, facing uncertain environmental conditions, depend on their harvests to feed their families and generate income from selling the surplus.
Normally, middlemen buy this surplus from farmers at unfairly low prices for resale in cities. Even before COVID-19, these prices sometimes didn’t even cover the farmers’ cost of growing and harvesting the crops.
But as a cooperative made up of unions and co-ops, FECODESA is able to offer farmers a fair price for their produce—15 to 20 per cent higher than the usual middlemen prices. And to make sure the produce is accessible to low-income workers in the cities, FECODESA sells it at 15 to 20 per cent lower prices than intermediaries would.
In the capital city of Managua, this means access to nutritious beans at a stable price for more than 600 urban workers. FECODESA’s sales stand in Managua dispenses the beans to independent workers, unions, daycare centres and companies. The enterprise has also created about 20 quality control jobs for women from communities in Pueblo Nuevo.
Through farmer cooperatives and these 10 despenas, our partner FECODESA is supporting food sovereignty in rural and urban Nicaragua.