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Nicaragua Food Security Policy

Nicaragua Food Security Policy

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Nicaragua Food Security Policy

Identification of Policy Issues

Within Latin America, Nicaragua stands out as the second poorest nation state after Haiti. On the UNDP Human Development Index and the Global Hunger Index, it featured in the 129th position and 21st respectively. The poverty levels within the country have always been high, despite the positive progress in their economy over the recent years. Three vital measures used in evaluating the level of food insecurity are chronic malnutrition, undernourishment and acute malnutrition. A larger part of the country suffers from chronic malnutrition that is even worse than in most African countries such as Malawi or Uganda. Food availability is another major issue in Nicaragua. Although farmers have endeavored to ensure that supply of agricultural products remain stable, much of the food consumed by the people originates from food aid. In fact, Nicaragua is only second to Haiti in terms of receiving food aid. The recent disaster from Hurricane Mitch only served to worsen the situation. Closely related to availability is the issue of food access. This aspect is measured by the degree of undernourishment. The causes of poor access to food can be attributed to the skewed distribution of income, availability of farming land for the poor families and low national per capita income. The country’s poor infrastructure is also an obstacle to the development of food security. Lack of all weather and feeder roads within the productive areas of Nicaragua limits access to agricultural services by the farmers.

Nicaragua is also at risk of natural catastrophes including tornadoes, avalanches, unstable seismic activity and volcanic eruptions all of which cause destruction of agriculture, sources of revenue and food security. The government and democratic environment has been at the center of contributing towards food insecurity within Nicaragua. The repelling and uncooperative environment exhibited by the central government highly impedes food stabilization programs and efforts. The state also lacks the capacity to undertake significant initiatives to ensure that food security is a reality. Within the Nicaraguan political system, there is also hostility and rejection of the main players and beneficiaries in the food security sector.

Microeconomic Theory and Data Analysis

In 2011, this progress was at its peak with a growth spurt of about 5.1% that was one of the highest in over ten years. The subsequent decrease in inflation levels to about 7% from a record level ceiling of 25% in 2008 was another significant development. The state of the food sector within Nicaragua is however, the main concern of most policy makers within the country. The Entitlement approach proposed by Amartya Sen attempts to solve the famine issue using three major principles: the endowment set, the entitlement set and entitlement mapping. Within the famine perspective, the people of Nicaragua experienced food shortage because a large percentage lacked “endowment” that included land, labor and capital. Sen argued that food shortages are caused by the collapse of the entitlement system. All people need food and when the entitlement to food fails, they cannot obtain enough food to avoid malnourishment. Possibly, Sen also argued that the only way this could be rectified was through introducing changes in e mapping or the endowment set or both. Within Nicaragua, this theory proposed by Amartya Sen holds true in all aspects. However, it also has another angle toward it that can be equally addressed by the Malthusian theory. The effect of Hurricane Mitch was essentially to displace the balance that existed in the distribution of food to the consumers in Nicaragua. However? Amartya Sen went on to argue that famines within areas are caused by reduction in food production. The case of famines in Venezuela, Egypt and Algeria during the periods from 1969 to 1971 is a classical example. All these countries depended on food production directly to feed their people while they should have expanded their resources to use it as a source of foreign exchange.

Policy Proposal

The solution to the food insecurity in Nicaragua is three-pronged in nature. The first part of the solution involves increased focus on ensuring food availability is a reality. These efforts should be spearheaded by the government and involve eliminating excessive bureaucracy surrounding the initiation and implementation of food initiatives. Other aspects of food availability that need to be addressed include encouraging a healthy collaboration between the private and public sectors .The top-down approach is very effective in such situations, as it will enable the Nicaraguans to contribute significantly to their food demands. The state should also strive to increase its capacity to handle different types of complication that arise in the process of achieving food security. Capacity is boosted by empowering ministries, the civil servants and other implementing bodies with the necessary resources. Accountability and performance assessment is also vital toward introducing elements of capacity. Lastly, for the state to spearhead the food security initiatives, they have to devise methods of solving the issue of land tenure that are common in Nicaragua.

The Nicaraguan government should also invest in disaster preparedness. While it is important that food security be given a high priority, it would be useless if disasters destroyed all these efforts. Measures should be installed that seek to limit the harmful and destructive effects of tornadoes, blizzards, avalanches and other forces of nature that may deplete the existing food reserves and render the country into a wave of famine. Apart from disaster management, well formulated and appropriate, final policy decisions that affect economic development, agriculture and social issues should be inclusively tackled because they are interconnected with the rest of the plans for food security.

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