Reconsidering non-traditional export agriculture and household food security: A case study in rural Guatemala
Abstract, PLoS ONE, 2018 May 24
As the production of non-traditional export (NTX) crops by smallholder households in developing countries expands, there is a compelling need to understand the potential effects of this type of agricultural production on household food security and nutrition. We use two household surveys with a sample of 52 households, interviews, and focus groups to examine whether smallholder farmers who produce broccoli for export in a rural Guatemalan community have different household food security than farmers in the same community who are still growing traditional maize and bean crops. We explore and compare the food security status of broccoli farmers (adopters) and traditional farmers (non-adopters) across four dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilization, and stability. Adopters earned significantly more income (40%) than non-adopters, but higher incomes did not coincide with improvements in food availability, food access, or food utilization. Results indicate that adopters and non-adopters alike struggle with access to food, while the intensity of broccoli production may be undermining the ability of local agricultural systems to naturally control pests and regulate nutrients. More systematic approaches to food security assessment, especially those that consider all four dimensions of food security, are needed to better target interventions designed to alleviate food insecurity among rural smallholders.