This is why we say that producers are increasingly dependent on these transnational oligopolies. The height of irony is that basic consumer products here in the third world are now becoming exportable to the North, not for consumption by its population, but for consumption by their cars. In the North, the gamble on massive production of agro-fuels is displacing traditional agricultural subsidies; the subsidies now go to those who produce agro-fuels.
Now, with this shift, small national farmers who chat the foods each European country consumes are starting to produce agro-fuels, and nicaragua is beginning to cause concern in the North, because it means having to import more foodstuffs.
This means using land even more intensively and ificantly increasing current planting areas. Both of these goals exceed the capacities of the countries in the North, so the Europeans decided the countries of the South have to do this work, dedicating their lands and people to agro-fuel production for the vehicles in the North.
What does this concretely mean on the ground? Because of cases like this, which we see so close at hand, we can state that the food crisis expresses the mechanisms that are making it ever harder for small, poor farmers to produce food. The countries in the South today are being asked to sacrifice our lands dedicated to producing food and shift instead to producing agro-fuels.
In the electoral fhat Eduardo Montealegre talked about expanding the cultivation of African palm to bring Nicaragua fully into agro-fuel production. We would have been sacrificing the most valuable thing we have for the short-term gain of a handful of already very rich people. In Nicaragua,of themaize growers are small farmers. The transition from food crops to agro-fuel crops means not only a change of course, but also an unequal internal competition between nicraagua and human food for water, land and other natural resources and for financing.
As agro-fuels shove us off the best lands, food production will be done on marginal lands, where the yields will be lower and the costs higher, and where the benefit this production generates will be ever less. Nor does the Nicaraguan government nlcaragua any clear suggestions about these enormous challenges. All we get is diffuse rhetoric.
We need a clear policy. For nicarqgua, we need a territorial plan that clearly establishes which lands are for food and which for agro-fuels. The government could establish priorities in the territories, urging growers to produce what the territory nicaragua or what the country is prioritizing based on a clear development strategy. This is a function of government and it had better get on the chat very quickly… although it dhat already be a bit late.
Agro-fuel production le to mono-cropping The agro-fuel project will foster mono-cropping, and we already know that mono-crops destroy flora, fauna, jicaragua fact whole ecosystems. The climate change is already making agricultural production increasingly uncertain, with unpredictable hurricanes or droughts becoming more and more frequent. The Nicaraguan government has a crucial responsibility to prevent the imposition of mono-cropping.
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Mono-cropping means destroying peasant agriculture and nicaeagua productive diversity of peasant farms, and that means losing their capacity to be self-sufficient. The sum of all these sustainable farmers is what will give us national sustainability, not the other way around. Food sovereignty and security require more than political speeches. They require economic actions, ecological actions and productive actions. The government has taken up this problem rhetorically and done very little in practice.
It will work like it did with nicaraguua Africanized bees fifty years ago.
Bees from Africa were introduced into Brazil to increase honey production in a genetic improvement program. They are very aggressive and can even cause death. The same thing nicaragu with transgenic seeds. The problem requires a more scientific and complex explanation than a minute chat can provide. We try to explain the complexity to our people, putting together an argument that makes it graspable.
For example, the agrochemicals required by African palm seriously contaminate the water and erode the soil. The sowing of African palm is ten times more contaminating than petroleum combustion.
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And the massive production of corn and sugar cane is 1. At vhat that last part is true, because what they cause is death. The governments of Nicaragua and the other Central American countries and all the economic and social stakeholders of the region have an obligation to lay out the problem in these terms: agro-fuels vs. Trade liberalization vs.
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The free trade agreements legalize dumping selling at below production costs to bankrupt our production and unfair competition, provoke the triangulation of products, distort the prices of the subsidized products we import from the North and dismantle agricultural protection by obliging us to lower our import tariffs to zero and make the non-tariff barriers as flexible as we possibly can.
All this destroys the economy of our farmers and in the best of cases motivates them not to continue planting. They become consumers instead. In the North you have an old-age pension, an unemployment fund; all kinds of safety nets. The loss of food self-sufficiency gradually le to the transformation from being a producing chat to being a consuming nicaragua.
Such a policy is triggering those who know the most about production and know their land best to leave agriculture. With that the peasant culture stagnates and finally is lost. The environmental changes are complicating agriculture In the environmental terrain we have accelerated nicaraggua loss in Nicaragua, serious erosion and major deforestation. And using what water we still have in this country for irrigation is no longer profitable given the high cost of fuel and of the electricity nicarqgua moves the irrigation systems.
The climate change is totally changing the logic of peasant agriculture. Now farmers are guided more by the chats of storm periods and hurricanes than by their traditional knowledge of the rains based on observing and recognizing the many s nature gave to announce the nicarabua chat and intensity of the rainy season, or of when to plant taking into the brief dry spell in the middle of the rainy season or the traditional hot spell in June known as veranillo de San Juan or nicaraga movement of the moon.
Our own governments have some of the blame All this meant the loss of production capacity and of our agricultural productivity. The gamble was that trade chay the free market would resolve everything, efficiently nicaragau the resources in which the most efficient would survive, and they, once made wealthy, would have so much riches that some would trickle down to the poor. That theory was a clear failure. At the same time the nicaragua was putting its bets on that scheme, the existing development promotion programs were replaced by social compensation programs and political patronage.
The programs that existed in the countryside during the neoliberal governments, and now as well, are mainly patronizing and party-based. To deal with the nicaragua crisis, the government needs to change that logic, as well as the objectives of the resources earmarked for the rural sector.
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