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Household food security and crop diversification among smallholder farmers in Guatemala

Sécurité alimentaire des ménages et diversification des cultures parmi les petits agriculteurs au Guatemala
Seguridad alimentaria en los hogares y diversificación de los cultivos entre pequeños agricultores de Guatemala

Can maize and beans save the day?

M.D.C. Immink and J.A. Alarcón

Maarten D.C. Immink, former head of the Food Planning and Nutrition Division of the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) in Guatemala, is a Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C., USA. Jorge A. Alarcón, previously a research economist at INCAP, is a doctoral student in Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University, USA.

It is commonly believed that crop diversification among smallholder farmers is incompatible with maintaining or improving household food security when cash crops are included in the new crop mix (Lunven, 1982; Fleuret and Fleuret, 1980; Dewey, 1979; Lappe and Collins, 1977; Hernández et al., 1974; Gross and Underwood, 1971). The main concern is that food availability of smallholder farm households will be affected by the displacement of food crops by cash crops. It has been postulated that the household's vulnerability to food insecurity and dietary inadequacy may be increased, particularly when household food availability does not change much in response to higher household income from cash crops. Household labour inputs per hectare are often higher for production of cash crops than for basic food crops; thus the household's daily energy requirements, particularly those of women and children, may be raised. Increased female employment may lead to reduced child care, with detrimental nutritional consequences for small children (Popkin, 1980). On the other hand, the need to migrate seasonally to find off-farm employment is likely to be reduced when cash crops are introduced, with positive benefits resulting from more social interaction within the household and lower incidence of morbidity.

A consistent body of evidence from different settings indicates that the income effects from agricultural transformation in the subsistence sector are positive and can reduce income inequality among diversified smallholder farmers (Bouis and Haddad, 1990; Kennedy, 1988; Kennedy and Cogill, 1987; von Braun, de Haen and Blanken, 1991; von Braun, Puetz and Webb, 1989; von Braun, Hotchkiss and Immink, 1989; Immink and Alarcón, 1992). However, in spite of higher economic returns to household resources (land and labour) from cash crops compared with basic staple crops, a number of risks for smallholder farmers are associated with increased commercialization. These include:

· income loss from crop failure.
· market price variability over time.
· weak and inefficient marketing institutions.
· higher input requirements, and thus greater need for credit and extension services, both of which are typically lacking for farmers with little land.

The key to preventing negative food availability effects of diversified farming is significant yield increases in food crops, which will offset the reduction in land allocated for the production of these crops. In Guatemala, farmers producing a diversity of crops raised maize yields by using additional labour and by increasing fertilizer application as a direct result of the adoption of new technology (von Braun, Hotchkiss and Immink, 1989). This supports the general point that farm-level specialization leads to the adoption of new technological production techniques and thus to yield increases (Lipton and Longhurst, 1989). However, agricultural technologies may have different nutritional impacts, and sole emphasis on production expansion may not result in nutritional improvements for the rural poor (DeWalt and DeWalt, 1987).

Even if yield increases offset the reduction in land allocation, the total household availability of own-produced foods will decline when the share of total production that the household sets aside for its own consumption decreases. Under these conditions, the effect on income for food purchases must consistently be strong enough to compensate for the reduced availability of own-produced food. The evidence is not encouraging, since the availability of purchased foods (expressed as dietary energy availability) has been shown to be fairly unresponsive to income changes (Bouis and Haddad, 1990). Thus, consumption of own-produced foods by the household may remain a critical element of household food security, even when income levels rise substantially.

This article focuses on maize, the single most important food of the rural poor in Guatemala, and beans, which are often grown together with maize on the same plot of land. To see whether higher maize and bean yields are indeed the key to household food security among diversified smallholder farmers in Guatemala, we examine how the critical parameters of yields, the share of land allocated to these crops and the share of own-produced maize and beans consumed by the household might change among smallholder farmers who diversify their crop mix. Determinants of these elements in the household food production-consumption chain are examined, as well as the food availability outcomes for the household and especially for the most vulnerable household members, preschool children. Finally, we draw some policy and programme lessons from the analysis.


In the western highlands of Guatemala, an area whose population is predominantly indigenous, the economy is characterized by subsistence farming systems, low agricultural productivity and poor access to major markets. The major food crops are maize and beans, while wheat and potatoes are major cash crops. As a consequence of political conflict and violence over an extended time, a large percentage of the highland population has been displaced and made landless. Rural poverty continues to increase, and agricultural development programmes are confined to the diminishing segment of the rural population that still has access to land. Seasonal off-farm employment in coastal areas, often involving the whole family, provides additional cash income for smallholder farmers at a high social cost. In general, the food security, health and nutrition conditions in this area continue to deteriorate.

In 1982, the Government of Guatemala initiated a programme of crop diversification in this area for smallholder farmers which is primarily based on cold-weather vegetables. The programme aims to improve the socio-economic well-being of subsistence farmers and their households by increasing household income and on-farm employment. Cold-weather vegetable production and consumption are promoted through credit programmes for mini-irrigation systems, soil conservation and farm inputs and through agricultural extension services.

A farm production and household expenditure survey of 1 490 traditional and diversified farm households was conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA) in 1987. Eight months later, the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) conducted a food intake and anthropometric survey among 906 households included in the MAGA sample. The household food Intake, as well as the intake of one preschool-aged child (aged 12 to 66 months) per household, was measured1 and anthropometric measurements were obtained for various household members including a school-aged child (aged 6 to 15 years) and one male and one female adult. As an indicator of chronic energy deficiency status, the body mass index (BMI = wt/ht2) was calculated. Participation in credit and agricultural extension programmes during the previous year was also noted.

1 The food intake data was measured by 24-hour recall and food weighing, and the values were converted into daily energy intakes using the Central American food composition table (INCAP, 1971).

TABLE 1 - Characteristics of smallholder farmers and their maize and beans production, western highlands of Guatemala, 1987 - Caractéristiques des petites exploitations agricoles et de la production de maïs et de haricots, hauts plateaux de l'ouest du Guatemala, 1987 - Características de los pequeños agricultores y de la producción de maíz y frijoles en el altiplano occidental de Guatemala, 1987

Type of farmer and crop

Farm size

Cropland extension

(100 kg/ha)

Labour inputs

Fertilizer cost

Per caput income

Head-of-household off-farm employment

Head-of household literacy




Percent household

Maize farmersb


















Diversified farmersc


















a 1 quetzal (Q) = US$0.40 (1987).
b n=313.
c n = 473.

Note: Figures are weighted medians.


From the survey, 786 households were later classified as either "traditional" or maize farmers (maize and/or beans production only), (40 percent) or diversified farmers. The diversified group was subdivided into three subgroups: potato farmers (maize and/or beans plus potatoes), (24.2 percent of the total); wheat farmers (maize and/or beans and/or potatoes plus wheat), (15.3 percent); and vegetable growers (maize and/or beans and/or potatoes plus vegetables - mainly cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, red beets and broccoli), (20,7 percent). The maize farmers were included as the comparison group.

Nearly all of the farmers in the INCAP survey grew maize, and one-third also produced beans. Roughly equal proportions of maize and diversified farmers grew either maize alone (65,8 percent and 63,2 percent, respectively) or maize in combination with beans (33,5 percent and 32,3 percent, respectively).

Diversified farmers tended to have larger farms and cropland extensions than maize farmers (see Table 1). The survey showed that 69 percent of the diversified farmers had received credit and/or agricultural extension services during the previous year, compared with 28 percent of the maize farmers. The percentage of cropland in maize production was significantly lower among diversified farmers, independent of crop mix, and it was even lower among vegetable growers with large farms than among vegetable growers with small farms. The percentage of cropland in bean production showed greater stability with diversification; the negative difference with maize farmers was most marked among vegetable growers, but was significantly smaller on larger farms. Maize yields generally tended to be higher among diversified farmers, most significantly on larger wheat farms. Bean yields were generally found to be lower among diversified farmers, particularly among potato and wheat farmers.

The labour intensity of maize production generally tended to be similar among maize and diversified farmers (but higher among potato farmers); however, hired labour provided a greater share of total labour inputs on diversified farms. Labour inputs in bean production were lower on diversified farms and were supplied on all farms for the most part by household members (except on wheat farms).2

2 These labour inputs in maize are substantially higher than those reported elsewhere (von Braun, Hotchkiss and Immink, 1989) because no adjustments were made to equate days of child labour with days of labour provided by adults; person-days reported were not necessarily full-time equivalent days; and person-days reported for maize are likely to have been overestimated, and for beans underreported, when maize and beans were grown in combination.

Fertilizer application in maize production was predictably highest among diversified farmers. However, the difference with maize farmers was relatively small. More than half of the farmers reported no fertilizer applications In bean production. (This may be an underestimation when maize and beans are grown intermixed on the same plots.)

Diversified farmers tended to have higher per caput income levels than maize farmers. This was especially true among the smallest farmers, with the exception of potato farmers. A somewhat greater disparity in income distribution was associated with crop diversification, especially among potato farmers. In comparison with maize farmers, heads of diversified farm households were less often engaged in off-farm employment; they (and their spouses) were also more likely to be literate, (In both respects, potato farmers were generally the exception among the diversified farmers.)

Other important factors associated with crop diversification among these highland farmers were greater access to credit, household labour supply constraints, alternative off-farm employment opportunities and location (Immink and Alarcón, 1992).


Maize is the most important source of dietary energy among rural households in Guatemala. The food intake survey found that maize consumption provided on average 72 percent of the total daily energy intake. Households with adequate daily energy intake levels consumed on average 62 percent more maize than households with inadequate intake levels, even though maize provided the same proportion of total energy intake in both groups. Although maize contributed the same proportion of total energy intake in all preschoolers, those children with adequate daily energy intake levels consumed on average 80 percent more maize than those with inadequate intake levels.

Beans were the third highest source of dietary energy among these households.3 Six percent of the total daily energy intake of households and 8 percent of preschoolers' daily energy intake came from beans. Households with adequate daily energy intake levels had on average 52 percent higher bean consumption than those with inadequate intakes; in both groups, beans provided about the same proportion of total energy intake. The same pattern applied for preschoolers: bean consumption was 56 percent higher for those children with adequate daily energy intake levels, with only a 10 percent reduction in the share of dietary energy from beans in total energy intake. Thus, maize and beans represented a constant component of the daily diet at different levels of daily energy intake, pointing to a great deal of diet monotony.

3 Sugar was the second highest source of dietary energy.


It is expected that maize and bean yields have a central role in resolving potential conflicts between household food security and crop diversification that includes cash crops. If this is true, an understanding of the determinants of maize and bean yields will assist in the formulation of policy and programme recommendations.

In the model, maize and bean yields were postulated to be a function of:

· land area under cultivation in maize or beans.
· fertilizer application per unit of land in the specific crop,4
· total labour input per unit of land in the specific crop.
· energy deficiency status of household members (adult male as index), measured by the BMI.
· whether maize and beans were intermixed in production.
· the crop mix of diversified farmers (with maize farmers as the comparison group).

4 The available data included cost of fertilizer per hectare, which thus suggested price and quantity effects. In a cross-sectional analysis, we may assume relatively small price variation among farmers.

Maize yields

An earlier Guatemalan study proposed that diversified farmers increased fertilizer application and the labour land ratio and thereby obtained higher maize yields (von Braun, Hotchkiss and Immink, 1989); this proposition was tested. The quality of the labour inputs (indicated by the BMI of adult males), in addition to the quantity, may be positively related to yields,5 We expected yields to be lower when the cropland extension was larger and when maize and beans were grown together (intercropped). Lastly, different crop mix patterns may also result in yield differences for diversified crops.6

5 The BMI has been signalled as an adequate indicator of chronic energy deficiency status in adults (James, Ferro-Luzzi and Waterlow, 1988); Morgan (1990) has indicated that the interpretation of low BMIs as an indicator of body energy stores may vary in different populations and may reflect low fat-free mass as well. Empirical evidence for Guatemala generally supports Norgan's conclusions (Immink, Flores and Diaz, 1992).

6 The model explained relatively little of yield variations, particularly in the case of maize, that may have been due to model misspecification and/or measurement errors in yield estimates.

Farmers who grew maize and beans intermixed on the same plots had lower maize yields, particularly on larger farms. Though the effect was small, higher labour:land ratios in maize production were associated with higher yields, especially on the smallest farms. The quality of labour inputs (BMI of male adults) contributed more to higher maize yields than higher labour:land ratios. The BMI of male school-aged children was also statistically significant (p < 0,05), while those of female adults and female school-aged children were not, perhaps because a large share of household labour in maize production is supplied by males. When household labour was relatively constrained, as on larger farms, labour quality had a much more significant role in yield variations than total labour supplied.

Fertilizer applications raised maize yields, mainly on larger farms. Since the use of fertilizer was low on the smallest farms, fertilizer applications did not have much effect on yields. Maize yields were positively associated with i different crop mix patterns, over and above higher labour supply and fertilizer use; these marginal effects of crop diversification were strongest among wheat farmers and larger diversified farmers. This may reflect the diversified farmers' greater access to agricultural extension services and credit. Agricultural extension services raised the use of fertilizer in maize production, mostly on larger farms which are usually targeted. Larger diversified forms may be located on better quality soil; perhaps new technologies including soil conservation practices have been adopted on these farms. They may have better access to water as well as better infrastructure and equipment. However, the farmers in the sample tended to be fairly homogeneous as to the low use of improved maize seeds [maize farmers (MF), 1,6 percent; diversified farmers (DF), 4.5 percent], terracing of their maize fields (MF, 5.1 percent; DF, 17.7 percent) or irrigation (MF, 3.2 percent; DF, 7,7 percent). Although farmers who received credit or extension services tended to use improved maize seeds more often or were more likely to have terraced or irrigated maize fields, the associations were statistically weak and could also be explained by other factors. Finally, maize yields generally remained constant with the size of maize cropland.

Bean yields

Bean yields were significantly lower on larger bean crop extensions, possibly because there was more intercropping of beans and maize on larger farms. More labour inputs in bean production resulted in higher yields, but household labour quality did not affect bean yields. Bean yields were found to be lower on larger potato farms, while on vegetable growers' farms, especially on smaller ones, significantly higher bean yields were reported. Fertilizer use did not seem to affect bean yields, and no statistical evidence was found to indicate that access to agricultural extension services or to credit made fertilizer use in bean production more likely.


The commercialization of maize, and to a lesser degree of beans, generates income which allows households to purchase foods. During non-harvest periods even maize and beans are often purchased. The authors hypothesize that the additional income generated as a result of maize and bean yields can contribute to food security, depending on how daily energy intake levels change in response to household income changes.7 Can higher maize and bean yields be expected to raise total food intake of diversified farm households and their individual members?

7 Spending of income derived from maize and beans specifically could not be differentiated from spending of income from all sources. However, in the case of maize, male heads of household appear to dominate marketing decisions and consequently are likely to control the income from this crop.

In the case of maize, the share of production set aside for household consumption was 22 percent among diversified farmers, compared with 33 percent among maize farmers (see Table 2). The share of bean production set aside was on average equal in both groups, though higher among potato farmers (52 percent). On a per caput basis, production of maize and beans constituted a minor source of food for both diversified and traditional farm households during a year. Own-produced maize and beans jointly contributed 15 percent of the household energy intake among maize farmers and 12 percent among diversified farmers; potato farmers had the lowest percentage in this category.8 Own-produced maize and beans contributed a slightly higher percentage of daily energy allowances, on average. Daily energy allowances should not be equated with actual energy expenditure and may underestimate household energy requirements, particularly among diversified farm households if crop diversification is associated with higher energy expenditure levels by household members.

8 This may be an overestimate, since it is based upon one-time measurements made at harvest time (though daily energy intake levels may also be higher at this time).

TABLE 2: Household consumption of own-produced maize and beans by smallholder farmers, western highlands of Guatemala, 1987 - Consommation, par les ménages de petits agriculteurs, de maïs et de haricots produits sur l'exploitation, hauts plateaux de l'ouest du Guatemala, 1987 - Consumo familiar de maíz y frijoles de producción propia entre los pequeños agricultores del altiplano occidental de Guatemala, 1987

Type of farmer and crop

Percent allocated to household consumption

Per caput consumption

Percent of total energy intake

Percent of total daily energy allowance

Adequacy of total daily energy intake


Preschool child

Maize farmers













Diversified farmers













Note: Figures are weighted medians.

Total energy intake of these smallholder farm households on average appeared to be adequate (relative to daily energy allowances), but 39 percent and 45 percent of maize and diversified farm households, respectively, did not meet their daily energy allowances. For potato farmers, the figure was 55 percent. Preschool children (aged 12 to 66 months) were at significantly higher risk of inadequate daily energy intakes, especially children of potato farmers. Three-fourths of those households that adequately met their daily recommended allowances had a preschool child who did not; this was most notable among potato farmers' households (84 percent).

Can household energy availability from own-produced maize and beans be expected to improve when yield increases? Are such increases likely to produce different dietary energy availability effects in diversified farm households with inadequate daily energy intake levels? In a basic model, dietary energy availability from own-produced maize and beans was postulated to be dependent on yields, area cultivated, energy intake status and whether maize and beans were grown intermixed. A second model tested for marginal effects of yield differences among diversified and maize farm households that had inadequate daily energy intake levels.

Household energy consumption from own-produced maize was on average found to respond little to yield increases; for every 10 percent increase in yields, dietary energy availability from maize could be expected to increase by 2.3 percent. The response was highest among the smallest farms but did not differ essentially between diversified and maize farmers or between households with adequate and inadequate daily energy intakes. The exception was potato farmers with larger maize areas and with inadequate household energy intakes; in these households the energy availability from own-produced maize generally responded less to higher maize yields. Household consumption of own-produced maize tended to be more responsive to increases in maize cropping area, especially on larger farms, and tended to be higher and somewhat more responsive to maize yield increases when maize and beans were grown together. The share of own-produced maize used for household consumption was generally higher among farmers who grew both maize and beans.

The household energy consumption from own-produced beans was overall three times more responsive to yield increases than that from maize and was less sensitive to farm size. The response to bean yield variations was statistically not different between diversified and maize farmers or between households (irrespective of whether they were maize or diversified farm households) with adequate and inadequate daily energy intake levels. Thus, household consumption of own-produced beans generally did not seem to vary with the household's energy adequacy status or the farm's crop mix pattern. Among these farm households, bean yield increases (as well as increases in bean area) can generally be expected to increase the dietary energy availability from own production more than maize yield increases. One reason is that the share of own-produced maize retained for consumption tended to fall with higher maize yields (r = -0.29; p < 0.001), particularly on larger farms (r = -0.39; p < 0.001), suggesting that food intake patterns shift from maize at higher yield levels (independently of the household's energy adequacy status). On the other hand, the share of own-produced beans retained for the household did not respond to differences in bean yields.


Can we expect yield increases to contribute to higher household incomes among diversified farmers, and will such income gains increase food availability? The diversified farmers commercialized on average 78 percent of their maize crops and 55 percent of their bean crops. Thus, increases in maize and bean yields, if market prices hold constant, can be expected to generate additional income. The commercialized share of both maize and bean production tended to be higher on farms with larger cropland extensions (most significantly wheat farms), and the commercialized share of maize tended to increase with higher maize yields.

Per caput total expenditures (as a proxy for household income) were postulated to be a function of:

· maize yields.
· cropland extension.
· off-farm employment.
· crop mix, including mix of maize and beans.
· literacy status of head of household and spouse, as an indicator of the household's stock of human capital.

The analysis found that increases in maize yields can generally increase household expenditures, but by a relatively small degree (overall, 1,3 percent for every 10 percent increase in maize yields). The effect appeared to be strongest among farmers with larger cropland extensions (reflecting higher commercialization shares of own-produced maize). Per caput expenditures were less responsive to differences in cropland area, pointing to the importance of land use in income generation. Off-farm employment was significantly associated with lower per caput expenditures, especially on smaller farms. Off-farm employment by heads of household tended to decrease with larger cropland extensions (though that of children increased), particularly among those with higher than average maize yields. There were no marginal crop diversification effects on per caput expenditures, with other factors held constant, and net returns in maize production did not differ between diversified and maize farmers. The only exception was that per caput expenditures of potato farmers with small cropland extensions were more responsive to maize yields. When maize and beans were grown in combination, rather than maize alone, per caput expenditures were somewhat higher and more responsive to maize yield differences, particularly on larger farms. Lastly, per caput expenditures rose with literacy levels, but only if the head of household and spouse were both literate; this points to the important role of spouses in income generation, particularly in household production, since there was little off-farm employment by spouses (MF, 3.1 percent; DF, 4.3 percent).

For beans, per caput expenditures were not responsive to differences in yields, notwithstanding that net returns for beans were higher than for maize production. Diversified farmers did not differ from maize farmers in this regard.

When per caput expenditures differ, how responsive is daily energy intake (per adult equivalent unit)? Does this relationship differ between diversified farm households and maize farm households? According to the analysis, the doily energy intake of these farm households is not likely to change much in response to differences in per caput expenditures overall; for every 10 percent increase in per caput expenditures, daily energy intake can be expected to increase by 1,2 percent. This was the same for diversified and maize farm households, except for potato farmers' households, whose daily energy intake was even less responsive to per caput expenditure differences. There was also a small farm size effect: daily energy intake levels were somewhat less responsive to per caput expenditure differences on larger farms. The daily energy intake of young children (aged 12 to 66 months) in both diversified and maize farm households can be expected to respond much like that of the household to per caput expenditure changes: by 1,6 percent for each 10 percent change in per caput expenditures.


The basic question of the complementarity between cash crops and food crops on smallholder farms was addressed, and ways to strengthen the complementarity to prevent further deterioration in the food security of farm households, and perhaps to improve it, were examined. Two interrelated approaches are required: first, productivity of basic food crops should be raised; second, the risks involved in production and marketing of cash crops should be lowered.

Higher levels of fertilizer application and greater labour intensity in maize production may be expected to increase yields. The quality of those labour inputs has an important role in raising maize yields, over and above the number of person-days worked per hectare, particularly on larger farms where labour constraints are more severe. Since only a few diversified and maize farmers used improved seeds or had terraced and/or irrigated maize fields, these production factors do not explain diffentials in maize yields, in spite of the fact that diversified farmers received credit and/or agricultural extension services 2,5 times more often than the maize farmers. Additional effects associated with crop diversification appear to enhance maize yields, including more efficient crop production practices.

The body composition of male and female adults and of school-aged males was more adequate on diversified farms when a greater share of total on-farm work was performed by hired labour, particularly on larger farms. This advantage was not due to higher per caput incomes, food expenditures or dietary energy intake of the household. The body composition of these individuals tends to reflect daily energy expenditure levels more than energy intake. Thus, when household labour is heavily constrained, body composition can be improved by having more on-farm work performed by hired labour.

Maize yield increases contributed little to household dietary energy availability or to household income and thus to total household food availability. Yield differentials would have to be considerably larger than the 30 percent gap found elsewhere in Guatemala between traditional and export crop farmers. Such yield improvements may not be feasible without substantial technical assistance, higher levels of input use, soil conservation and improved access to water. In spite of the fact that diversified farmers have greater access to credit, the need to finance higher production costs from the farmer's own funds may lead to a lower share of own-produced maize being set aside for household consumption when yields are higher.

Higher bean yields are more likely to increase household dietary energy intake from own-produced foods. Beans are more often grown specifically for household consumption. Household dietary energy intake from the farm's own production was more responsive to bean area expansion than to expansion in maize area, so that substitution of beans for maize should have a positive net effect. Labour inputs per hectare are lower for beans, and bean yield increases can be obtained with lower labour inputs; these potential labour savings are an important consideration on smallholder farms. Beans have only 7 percent fewer calories (per 100 g of edible portion) than maize, but they have 2.5 times more protein and higher levels of many key micronutrients (iron, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid).


A number of policies and actions can be identified that may lower production and marketing risks and assist diversified smallholder farmers in raising basic food crop production, thus reducing household food insecurity.

Agricultural credit programmes should be reoriented to be more closely targeted to the smallest farmers. Improvement in credit access by small farmers requires: change in selection criteria, with less emphasis on ability to pay; expansion in rural credit systems toward more remote areas; and a more expeditious legal process of emitting land titles to smallholder farmers. Alternative credit programmes that are not institution based but community based may be more effective in reaching the smallest farmers. On diversified farms that face labour constraints, greater access to credit may facilitate hiring of additional labour, which in addition to creating employment for landless labourers may improve body composition of household members.

Agricultural extension services should also be reoriented to target the smallest farmers. At present, these services have little impact on input use and land management practices. Training content, technology focus and dissemination practices should be reassessed and modified to increase their effectiveness. Extension services should be more closely coordinated with credit programmes and should promote the production and application of organic fertilizers more than agrochemical fertilizers. Training components should also focus on marketing and simple administrative skills for farmers who are diversifying and marketing their crops. Food crops as well as cash crops should be targeted by extension services. Within the Guatemalan context, bean yield increases and expansion in bean cropping areas should be promoted with a view to reducing household food insecurity and improving the nutritional quality of the daily diet.

In terms of infrastructure, access to markets both for cash crops and for the marketed shares of food crops could be increased if rural roads are planned in areas where smallholder farmers are concentrated rather than where large production units are located. Product collection facilities should be community based to facilitate product marketing, as should be small-scale irrigation works.

Bottom-up development of farmer cooperatives is the key to many agricultural development strategies. One reason for the lack of success of many cooperatives in Guatemala is that autonomous farmer organizations were not allowed to develop and cooperatives were usually controlled by the government. Farmer cooperatives can operate in any one or all of the following areas: production, processing, marketing, consumption and credit and savings. Collective marketing generates market power and opportunities for market diversity, thereby increasing price stability for farmers. Integration of production, processing and marketing can capture economic benefits because of scale and higher net returns to farmers. Consumer cooperatives lower food prices, while financial cooperatives can allocate credit on terms that are not purely commercial. Sometimes they can reduce loan default rates as well.

Actions to empower women in smallholder households through training in technical, leadership and organization skills may contribute to changing roles within the household and control by women over a greater share of household income. This may, in turn, contribute to greater household food availability when incomes rise.


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Sécurité alimentaire des ménages et diversification des cultures parmi les petits agriculteurs au Guatemala

Au Guatemala, le maïs et les haricots constituent respectivement la première et la troisième source d'énergie alimentaire. L'amélioration des rendements du maïs et des haricots sur les petites exploitations a culture diversifiée peut-elle compenser la réduction des superficies allouées à ces cultures et assurer des disponibilités alimentaires suffisantes? Deux enquêtes sur les ménages réalisées auprès de petits agriculteurs des hauts plateaux de l'ouest du pays ont fourni des données qui permettent de déterminer les facteurs dont dépendent les rendements du maïs et des haricots. L'article examine les effets que pourrait avoir une amélioration des rendements sur les disponibilités alimentaires quotidiennes produites par les ménages pratiquant une culture diversifiée, sur le revenu des ménages et sur la disponibilité de denrées achetées.

On constate que les rendements du maïs sont plus élevés chez les agriculteurs pratiquant une agriculture diversifiée que chez les agriculteurs pratiquant une culture traditionnelle, en raison de la plus forte intensité de main-d'oeuvre et d'utilisation d'engrais, alors que pour les haricots, ils obtiennent de moins bons rendements, en raison de la moindre intensité de main-d'oeuvre. Les deux types d'exploitation ne présentent guère de différences en ce qui concerne l'utilisation des autres intrants.

Les ménages pratiquant une agriculture diversifiée cultivent généralement des superficies plus importantes et ont des revenus plus élevés que les producteurs traditionnels de maïs, mais leur apport alimentaire n'est pas plus satisfaisant. Les taux de commercialisation du maïs sont en général élevés, surtout parmi les cultivateurs pratiquant une agriculture diversifiée, tandis que ceux des haricots sont bien inférieurs et ne varient pas selon les types d'exploitation.

Moins d'un cinquième de l'apport énergétique fourni par la consommation de maïs et de haricots provient de maïs et de haricots produits par le consommateur, L'amélioration des rendements du haricot contribuerait sans doute davantage a améliorer la ration énergétique du ménage que l'amélioration du rendement du maïs, tant parmi les agriculteurs pratiquant une agriculture diversifiée que parmi les producteurs traditionnels de maïs. En effet, la part des haricots produits sur place dans la consommation ne varie pas avec les rendements, que le ménage pratique une agriculture diversifiée ou non, ou qu'il ait des rations énergétiques insuffisantes ou non, tandis que la part du maïs produit sur place dans la consommation tend à diminuer lorsque les rendements s'améliorent.

Ainsi, il ne faut guère s'attendre à ce que l'amélioration des rendements du maïs et du haricot augmente les revenus (ou les dépenses) des ménages, que ceux-ci pratiquent une agriculture diversifiée ou non. De toute façon, l'augmentation des revenus ne semble guère entraîner d'amélioration dans l'apport énergétique quotidien des ménages et des enfants d'âge préscolaire. Par conséquent, l'amélioration des rendements du maïs et du haricot ne contribuerait sans doute guère à réduire l'insécurité alimentaire par son seul effet sur les revenus.

L'amélioration des rendements du haricot, ou la substitution du haricot au maïs sur les petites exploitations diversifiées, contribuera davantage à réduire l'insécurité alimentaire des ménages que la hausse des rendements du maïs uniquement, tout en améliorant la qualité nutritionnelle du régime alimentaire quotidien.

Seguridad alimentaria en los hogares y diversificación de los cultivos entre pequeños agricultores de Guatemala

El maíz y los frijoles son, respectivamente, la primera y tercera fuentes más importantes de energía alimentaria en Guatemala. Para analizar la posibilidad de que un aumento del rendimiento del maíz y de los frijoles en pequeñas explotaciones agrícolas diversificadas compense la reducción de la superficie destinada a estos cultivos, manteniendo al mismo tiempo la disponibilidad de alimentos, se llevaron a cabo dos encuestas entre los pequeños agricultores del altiplano occidental de este país. Las encuestas permitieron obtener datos sobre los factores que determinan el rendimiento de estos productos y así examinar los efectos del aumento del rendimiento en la disponibilidad diaria de alimentos de producción propia en los hogares con explotaciones agrícolas con cultivos diversificados, así como sus efectos en los ingresos familiares y en la disponibilidad de alimentos comprados.

Se encontró que en las explotaciones agrícolas diversificadas el rendimiento del maíz fue mayor que en las tradicionales, debido a la mayor utilización de mano de obra y a la aplicación de fertilizantes, y que el rendimiento de frijoles fue menor debido a un menor uso de mano de obra en su producción. La utilización de otros insumos fue similar en ambos tipos de explotaciones agrícolas.

Los hogares con cultivos diversificados tienen por lo general explotaciones agrícolas e ingresos per cápita mayores que los de los productores tradicionales de maíz, pero su consumo de alimentos es igualmente insuficiente. Las tasas de comercialización del maíz son en general altas, y lo son aún más entre los agricultores con explotaciones agrícolas diversificadas; en el caso de los frijoles, las tasas son considerablemente inferiores, y son por lo general iguales en ambos tipos de explotaciones agrícolas.

El maíz y los frijoles de producción propia aportan menos de una quinta parte de la ingesta energética total derivada del consumo de estos productos. Un aumento del rendimiento de los frijoles contribuiría a la ingesta energética de los hogares probablemente en mayor medida que un aumento del rendimiento del maíz, tanto entre los productores tradicionales de maíz como entre los agricultores con explotaciones agrícolas diversificadas.

En los dos tipos de explotaciones agrícolas la fracción de frijoles de producción propia que se consume no varía en función del rendimiento ni del aporte energético, mientras que la parte consumida del maíz de producción propia tiende a disminuir cuando aumenta el rendimiento.

Asimismo, aumentos en el rendimiento del maíz y de los frijoles difícilmente redundarán en un aumento de los ingresos (o gastos) familiares de los agricultores de ambos tipos de explotación agrícola. La cuantía de la ingesta energética diaria de los hogares y niños en edad preescolar parece aumentar poco cuando aumenta el volumen de los ingresos. Por consiguiente, un aumento del rendimiento del maíz y de los frijoles contribuiría probablemente poco a reducir la inseguridad alimentaria a través de su efecto sobre los ingresos.

El aumento del rendimiento de los frijoles, o la sustitución de la producción de maíz por la de frijoles, reducirá la inseguridad alimentaria en los hogares en mayor medida que el aumento del rendimiento del maíz por sí solo, al tiempo que mejorará también la calidad nutricional de la dieta diaria.

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