Impacts of Export Agriculture on Guatemalan Food Security

Authors: John VanderHeide*, Tufts University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Natural Resources
Keywords: Agriculture, Food Security, Land Use, Climate
Session Type: Interactive Short Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon D1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2014 the World Food Programme provided aid to 150,000 smallholder farmers in Guatemala due to a drought. That same year Guatemala also enjoyed 5-year highs in the production of the water intensive crops banana and sugar cane. This is one example of a series of food price and climate shocks that have caused many to question the impact of the global food system on the world’s poor. Guatemala is a particularly pointed example of the issues small developing countries face. Its fertile soil and varied climatic regions make it a productive place to grow food. This has led to it becoming an important producer of specific agricultural goods such as coffee, sugar, bananas, and oilseed palm, yet it struggles with one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the Western Hemisphere as well as pervasive food insecurity. This trend is largely due to the allocation of prime agricultural resources to the production of export crops and the forcing of the rural poor onto marginal lands with high climate vulnerability. This research quantifies the geographic changes in the Guatemalan production zones of crops for export and crops for domestic consumption over the period of 2003-2010 and relates those changes to the vulnerability of the domestic food supply to climate change and international food price spikes. We also assess the impact that Guatemala’s changing agricultural geography might have on future climate vulnerabilities for the country’s poorest regions.

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