Framing Rural Food and Water Insecurity, Development and Crisis in Nicaragua: A Discourse Analysis

Authors: Erica Martinez*, Santa Clara University, Christopher Bacon, Santa Clara University, Anand Purohit, Santa Clara University, Kimberley Grandi, Santa Clara University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Hazards and Vulnerability, Development
Keywords: Discourse analysis, Nicaragua, Central America, drought, la roya, coffee, media, diversification, water insecurity, food insecurity
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


We compare the media coverage of agriculture, poverty, and hazards with farmer perceptions in Nicaragua from 1997 to 2018. Like many smallholder producing significant portions of the global food supply, most Nicaraguan small-scale farmers navigate recurring periods of seasonal hunger recently exacerbated by low coffee prices, the coffee leaf rust outbreak, drought, irregular rains and other political economic shifts.The analysis aimed to compare the primary discursive frameworks related to agriculture, poverty, crisis, and environmental change used by newspapers vs. Nicaraguan smallholder farmers. With this discourse analysis, we used keywords and several databases to compile all relevant articles published The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post and local Nicaraguan newspapers, La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario, and then drew a random sample that we systematically coded using Atlas.ti software to characterize the way that different sources portray these topics. Frameworks that have emerged from analyzing the coded responses include: natural disaster, government inefficiency, climate change, and farming practices. The media frequently used a combination of the ‘natural disaster’ and ‘government inefficiency’ frameworks, attributing food insecurity to the government’s inability to respond effectively to the frequent and severe natural hazards that impact Nicaraguan smallholders. Conversely, interviews with Nicaragua’s smallholders revealed a preference for agroecological practices, with many responses falling into the ‘farming practices’ framework. Previous results demonstrated that farmers believe that better methods like diversification would reduce their vulnerability crop loss from natural hazards. Further study will analyze how smallholders are responding to Nicaragua’s recent political unrest.

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