This member participated in the following discussions
Sustaining Small Scale Fisheries through Value-Added Production
Guyana has a low coastal plain which is the focal point of agricultural production. Rice is one of the main agricultural products produced in this region. Rice production in Guyana consists of many small to medium scale farmers, who supply both domestic and export markets.
Fishery production also takes place on the coastal area, given our 459 km Atlantic coastal zone and extensive network of rivers. This is great for sea food production which consists of marine fisheries that include prawns, shrimp, sea bob and a variety of commercial finfish. There is a need for much research to extract other species existing within the zone.
Apart from sea food production, aquaculture is a growing industry. It is still in its developmental stages but has the potential to be propelled to develop once necessary steps are put in place. However, aquaculture has so far been a very lucrative. Aquaculture is an advantageous opportunity for rice farmers to diversify; studies have shown that aquaculture production is much more profitable than the rice production. With irrigation systems already in place for rice production, there is much scope and adaptability for aquaculture production. More so, the byproduct of their rice, rice bran,( used to feed tilapia, the main fresh water fish species produced in Guyana) is used for feed. Chicken starter is also used as a fish feed, and is readily accessible in Guyana.
The Aquaculture can also be part be a diversification for the seafood companies, who would already have the facility and necessary systems in place for fish processing. These seafood companies can take advantage of this, and hence produce value added fresh fish products along with their sea food products. The seafood company to which the rice farmer sells aqua culture fish to can supply the rice farmer with sea bob, which is bountiful in Guyana sea fishing zone.
Initial investment needs capital. There is also need to put systems in place for production of value added products. Governments can help to promote value added production within this newly upcoming industry by implementing the needed credit policy and investing in the necessary research . This will help to ensure that the issue of limited investment is corrected by guaranteeing loans for fish production secure markets for their local producers and put system in place to protect them. The Guyana Small Business Bureau (GSBB) was granted a lump sum of cash to aid in the development of small businesses. It has the capacity of providing 40% of the needed collateral to access loans to start a business. This is an example of a credit policy that can mitigate some of the problems of accessing credit to invest in value-added production. The Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Lives stock (MFCL) manages, regulate and promote development of Guyana’s inland and marine fishery resources. MFCL can use their influence to provide extension services and research support to improve the methods and production practices of small scale fish farmers. There are a number of fisheries oriented groups who can benefit from training and implementation of value chain analysis, application of improved and new methods of production to strengthen weakness by collaborating with the Guyana school of agriculture, the government, and investors.
With the aid of the right mix of government intervention, efficient use of natural resources, currently available infrastructure and value-added analysis, small scale fisheries would be a sustained venture within the Guyanese Market.
Challenges and opportunities – needs for support and interventions.
What do you think the main implementation challenges are, generally as well as in a specific country context, and how could they be overcome?
Indeed there will be challenges that must be contended with. The main implementation challenges that would be highlighted lies within two areas. These would be modifying the SSF guideline in order for it to mesh with each country’s political structure and setting up an efficient information network so that different stakeholders can communicate with each other and efficiently send feedback so that the process can be monitored. Each country is different and therefore requires a customized program that would best suite it but still hold to the SFF guideline. To combat this, a sample must be taken from a handful of countries in the different regions of the world. This would help to draw attention to different government structures, allowing for a better, efficient and more effective formulation of plans to be implemented. They would be tailored to what will best serve the given objective. Also the partnership with the government in implementing the laws/legislation necessary for the success of the project may be hindered or prolonged due to conflict of interest with parties that stand to lose in some way by the implementation the SSF guideline. The information network is of the most crucial part of the successful implementation and monitoring of this project. With the need for such a large scope of information sharing, every level of communication even though on different levels, must find common ground of some kind in their communication of information. That been said there must be a standard and universal method of information transition that that would be best suited for this task.
In Guyana, the potential role of the CSOs in implementing the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small Scaled Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as “Voluntary Guidelines”) was brought to fore recently when the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), a vocal watchdog group, mounted a widely publicized and vigorous response to the Guyana Government’s inking of Memorandum of Understanding with a Chinese company to assess the feasibility of prospecting for a seafood species in the country’s marine space.
The GHRA felt that the pact between the Guyana Government and the Chinese company could lead to the licensing of the Chinese company to operate in deep waters, “Chinese factory ships will be anchored off-shore and fed from the catches from the Chinese trawlers to be cleaned, filleted, frozen and packaged; [which means] work will be taken away from local fish cleaners and others.” (Stabroek News).
The GHRA’s posture on the issue coincides with the FAO’s position as adumbrated in the Voluntary Guidelines, which “recognize that the post-harvest subsector – comprising all activities from capture of the fish through to the consumer – employs more people than the primary production subsector and most of them are women.” (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations )
The UG Agricultural Economic Focus 2014 grouping, for its research project is concentrating on the strengthening of backward and forward linkages in agriculture as a means of enhancing food security. We also share the concern that linkages in the form of corporations, which are owned and staffed by foreigners, vertically integrating chunks of upstream and downstream segments of the value chain into their internal operations, actually destroy local livelihoods and are inimical to the food security of local communities.
Though failure to abide by the Voluntary Guidelines would not result in sanctions, the adoption of these Guidelines creates for national and supranational authorities a moral obligation to adhere to them. Thus, in the current case where it appears that Chinese corporate interests may threaten those of local actor in the small scale fisheries, the Voluntary Guidelines, particularly Section 7 thereof, would apply; for example, one very relevant guideline (7.9) says: “States should endeavor to understand the impact of international trade in fish and fishery products and of vertical integration on local small-scale fishers, fish workers and their communities. States should ensure that promotion of international fish trade and export production does not adversely impact the enjoyment of the right to food and other human rights especially of people for whom fish is critical to a nutritious diet, their health and well-being and for whom other comparable sources of food are not readily available or affordable.”
Additional rules also apply to the scenario under examination; for instance, Voluntary Guideline 7.5 reads, “States and development partners should promote organizational and capacity development for small-scale fish workers in all stages of the value chain, in order to enhance their income and livelihood security. Accordingly, the development of cooperatives and other organizational structures should be supported as appropriate.” Incidentally, the UG Agricultural Economics Focus 2014 had iterated at length the role of cooperatives in food security.
Through their activism and public pressure, CSOs can generate public pressure on authorities to follow these Voluntary Guidelines. It is indeed apposite to note how, even in the absence any institutionalizing of the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Small Scaled Fisheries, the GHRA was able to widely highlight a potential threat to the integrity of the livelihoods of local small scaled fisheries actors and put the Minister of Agriculture (and Fisheries) and the wider Government on notice.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations . April 2013.
Food and Agriculture Organization Web Site, Technical Consultation On international Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, 17 November 2013.
Stabroek News. Local: Stabroek News, Pact signed with Chinese company for study of seafood species, 4 November 2013. 17 November 2013 .
What is your understanding of social relations and networks in food and nutritional security, and do you have examples of the role they play in the attainment of food and nutritional security?
As a result of the progress of regressive globalization and the increasing concentration of wealth in a few hands, the economic gap has widened between the rich and the poor which has often affected the survival of social groups. This inequality is one of the core elements of failure in the eradication of hunger and poverty.
Social relations are relationships between two or more people. In general, it involves the actions of a person or people, which solicits a reaction from the other person or people, and is the underpinning of a society and its social structure. Networking on the other hand, is the interaction with others to exchange information with a view to developing professional or social contacts.
Nutrition security goes beyond food security because it considers a community’s access to essential nutrients, not just calories. Fertilizers play a significant role in foods security by helping farmers in a given country, produce enough food domestically to meet the caloric needs of that country’s population. Yet, fertilizers also play an important role in nutrition security by facilitating access to a balanced diet that includes all of the essential nutrients that is primary, secondary and micronutrients. According to the International Fertilizer Industry Association, micronutrients fertilization programs should target Zinc, selenium and boron to ensure sufficient quantities of these nutrients in human diets. This is known as “farming for health”. The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes 800,000 deaths each year to zinc deficiency. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, also found that close to 50% of the soils in the world where cereal grains are grown are deficient in zinc. Fertilizers help increase the level of zinc found in food crops, and it is also key to fighting malnutrition and under-nutrition in human and animals.
Social relations and networking plays a pivotal role in rural communities across Guyana. Ideally the distance and lack of transportation, you find people willing to exchange with neighboring villages. Cattle farmers and poultry farmers give manure to agriculture farmers who in exchange give some of their produce (cash crops).This occurs when good relationships exist between neighbours and even villages. These are the types of relationships that can develop through social relation and networking because the need of each person is known before the exchange takes place.
It is through social relations and networking that many multilateral organizations such as the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and many regional associations such as Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) and the Caribbean and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) have made recommendations to governments to reduce the internal gap and dedicate more resources for human development. According to these organizations government should address basic food production systems with job creation, increase low salaries and subsidies for the marginalized and promote cheap prices of basic food for the urban poor. These recommendations are directly linked food security to the wider concept of human security.
Growing up everyone knows everyone. After migrating to Region four, an urban area. I was now engulfed in a community where everyone fights to survive. In this community people are not willing to help each other; instead it is a matter of survival of the fittestAccording to the WHO there are three pillars that determine food security: food availability, food access, and food use. The FAO adds a fourth pillar: the stability of the first three dimensions of food security over time. In 2009, the World Summit on Food Security stated that the “four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization, and stability. Just to give a brief idea as to what the different pillars of food security are. Food availability relates to the food supplied through production, distribution, and exchange. Food access refers to the affordability and allocation of food, as well as the preferences of individuals and households The UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights noted that the causes of hunger and malnutrition are often not a scarcity of food but an inability to access available food, usually due to poverty. Poverty can limit access to food, and can also increase how vulnerable an individual or household is to food price spikes. Access depends on whether the household has enough income to purchase food at prevailing prices or has sufficient land and other resources to grow its own food. Households with enough resources can overcome unstable harvests and shortages and maintain their access to food. Food stability refers to the ability to obtain food over time. The final pillar of food security is food utilization, which refers to the metabolism of food by individuals.
This post seeks to show how the civil society, private sector and government can play a role in strengthen the application of social relations and networks for food security and nutrition from the perspective of the students of Group 6, Agriculture Economics, University of Guyana.
The civil society, private sector and government can play a role in strengthening the application of social relations and networks for food security and nutrition. Social relations play a major role in food security around the world in most rural areas; most farms are located in the rural areas. Prior to marketing their produce, there was the presence of self-sufficiency in the rural community, so if a family does not produce a certain kind of food they would trade with their neighbors and also give away excess foods to other neighbor who does not have a farm of their own the persons living in rural areas is like an extended family. The urban areas on the other hand, people do not share excess food or do self-sufficiency so they compete for the limited food available to them, and because most food items are expensive you would never find urban citizens giving or sharing food with others. Families living in urban areas most times do not socialize with other families due to the hours of work and after school activities, so we find that some persons don’t even know their neighbors. The civil society, private sector and government can all play major roles in strengthening social relations and networks for food security. The above mentioned groups can play a major role by investing in educational seminars in the area, informing the citizen of improving access their access to nutritious food by working together. These seminars should involve; Community residents, the local health department, civic organizations and neighborhood commissions and schools or colleges. They should provide information on starting food cooperatives, community buying clubs (purchasing food in bulks to get it at farm gate prices), the usage of food Kiosks (local or community farmers), and the establishment of community farms and farmer’s market. The CSOs, private sectors and government can also plan a local food fair in the community, this will encourage local farmers to showcase their produce to other residence and this will help in the establishment of trust among residence which encourages more local purchases and also allow them to interact with each other by sharing farming and health tips. The above mentioned approach by the CSOs, private sector and government encourages social relations among residents, since it allows them to participate and interact with each other. This kind of communication develops trust so person will be more comfortable purchasing produce, working together and sharing with each other. This would improve the overall access to food in the entire community, resident’s participation and development of the community.
This post answers the question “What are some of the Challenges facing Social Relations and Networks in food and Nutritional Security” from a realistic perspective out of Guyana.
Social Relations and networks were once an important aspect in food security in Guyana, especially rural communities. Today, communities located in the the hinterland regions still rely heavily on subsistence farming and hence social relations and networks prove to be necessary in garnering essential food security. The indigenous farmers each farm a staple crop; either cassava or peanuts, while others hunt and fish. It is in their best interest therefore to maintain good relations within their small communities so that they can trade and supply each other with the needed food items.
However, out upon the Coastal plains of Guyana, urbanization has been rampant. This has posed some challenges to the general social relations and networks in food security. Two challenges have been identified that reduced the once admirable level of social relations that Guyanese once displayed.
Firstly, the growing urban population has led to a decrease in the rural population. It should be noted at this point that almost all of the agriculture based produce are farmed in rural areas. Hence a growing urban population has led to the increase in demand of all agriculture products including cash crops, poultry, and fish. Farmers in the rural communities now focus on maximizing profits from their farming. Hence the competition that has arisen from market prices has led farmers to be more focused on their own well being than that of their communities. For example, farmers in the Mahaicony area have experienced an increase for “Hassa”, a sweet water fish, which carries an expensive price. Prior to the great increase in demand families and friends would fish together and share the catch among each other, trading what they had for what they didn’t have and even sell fellow farmers at relatively low prices. However, today, fishing in now more of job than a hobby. Individuals are very careful to mark their area of fishing, keeping the area where “Hassa” is abundant a secret from other fishers. From this it is clear that a rise in market prices, leads to a competitive industry which gravely affects the social relations and networks in food security that were once present. Group 4 of the University of Guyana rightfully identified such activity as profit seeking which drastically reduces the social relation and networking with specific relation to food security.
Secondly, it was found that as urbanization has increased the number of extended families has decreased. Children are no longer staying at home to work on farms but are going to school, heading to the University and are starting small nuclear families in urban and sub-urban areas. Unfortunately, such families do little to no farming. All produce consumed are bought from markets (where sellers come from rural areas) or from supermarkets. This often leads more than not to generations of children being brought up who are not capable of planting a kitchen garden. A personal example can testify to this. My father grew up in Mahaicony where his family planted, fished and caught birds for their home needs and for marketing purposes. He later moved to a sub-urban village where I was brought up. Due to the nature of his current work he no longer farms nor fishes, so no knowledge of those have been passed on to me or his other three children. How can families in urban communities support each other in food security through social relations and networks if the “know how” hasn’t been passed on or isn’t being passed on to current and future generations?
Even though social relations and networks haven’t been completely wiped out it should be a concern that it has been decreasing. It is in the view of the members of this group that measures can be taken to restore some levels of social relation and networking in both urban and rural areas to increase food security and nutrition. One such way is to have workshops and peer education training that would encourage locals to farm small kitchen gardens from which they can get fresh, organic produce. In 2008 a “Grow more food” campaign was launched which was successful in allowing families to plant one crop in their own yard. A variety of seeds were given to each home and farmers in every community which aided in their production of cash crops. A more intensive approach in this same regard with similar input policies on a community basis should encourage a revival in social relations and networking in food security.
The role of social networks and social relationships do play key role in ensuring food nutrition and security. Many studies have proven that social interaction and relations is absolutely necessary for us to live healthy lives. The issue that is being raised by the moderator is one we fail pay attention to and I'm so happy that we have the opportunity to look at how it impacts food nutrition and security. There are many issues that hinder the development of productive social relationships among farmers ranging from racism to government efficiencies that force us to pick sides and battle it out to show who is superior and we all end up losing because there is no real victor other than poverty its self, which, is not only limited to material lack, but it is also a state of mind that is an infectious disease.
The essence of social relations and networks is that it creates linkage that are necessary for cheap and quality produce that would promote better and more reliable food sources that would benefit the nation and abroad. It has been proven time and time again that only as a unite force can we tackle the issues of food nutrition and security for all - as my colleague made mention of cooperative and how necessary they are in to create linkages to better the farming community.
An example to these linkages being formed is Shigam Inc which commenced its operations is 2008 on the Linden highway in Guyana. Shigam Inc produces fruits and vegetables using a technique called drip irrigation which was not used in Guyana at the time. Using this system they were able to produce vegetables that would far superior than anything else been produced at the time. Since then they have team up with different Government agencies to encourage local farms to use this technique and have taken up a project of build a larger farm and package plant to export their produce. They are also providing training and information for other farmers to learn this technique to produce up to international standards. This would lead to improved produce that is available on the local markets and would allow local farmers access to the packaging plants leading to them being able to export more of their produce around the world. Through this example we can see that we must work together and network to move our agriculture sector to place were we have effectively address the issue of proper food nutrition and security for all.
Information taken from: Shigam.com
Greetings from Georgetown, Guyana!
Ms. Omosa makes a lively point that social relations facilitate access to food through loans, bartering and gifting among families and tribes. As our colleagues in University of Guyana Agricultural Economics Research Group 1 hinted, however, the degree of altruism upon which the food trade, the type of which the Graduate Research student experienced during her childhood in Kenya, is predicated exists in very few places.
This is not to say that social relations have no role in facilitating food security, though. Food security is not obtained solely by making food directly accessible and available but, as we indicated in the discussion thread preceding this one, by promoting income growth and strengthening economic security. A community-oriented construct that facilitates economic empowerment and that is more driven by mutualism, trust and a sense of business purpose than altruism is the cooperative.
As much of the bastions of the developed world, Europe and North America (yes, inclusive of the United States of America), have demonstrated over the past two hundred years or so, cooperatives were formed: to strengthen bargaining power; maintain access to competitive markets; capitalize on new market opportunities; obtain needed products and services on a competitive basis; improve income opportunities; reduce costs; and manage risk. Perhaps surprising for a stalwart of capitalism, so significant are agricultural cooperatives in the United States that in 2002, they were estimated to control US$ 111,553 million in gross business. (Ortmann and King)
Our group’s thesis is premised on the notion that food security could be strengthened through fostering linkages between farmers and value-added processors. Cooperatives, made up of communities of farmers, can and do play a role in fostering this linkage, either by seeking out processors to buy farmers’ produce or by processing it themselves.
When dealing with processors (buyers), farmers often face high transaction costs – which encapsulate the costs involved in searching for and obtaining information on these buyers; bargaining and decision costs as they (farmers) may have to hire lawyers and advisors, and policing and enforcement costs which, for instance, are incurred when farmers have to take to court buyers who default on their payments. These transaction expenses are susceptible to economies of scale so, for instance, if a group of, say, cocoa farmers hire a lawyer to bargain with a processor on their behalf, they will incur lower legal costs on average than if they were to each retain counsel separately.
However, even when farmers do find buyers to purchase and process their produce, these processors often leverage their quasi-monopsonistic position to obtain rents by paying unfairly low prices to farmers for their produce. To ensure fairer returns on their produce, farmers can form themselves into cooperatives and move up the value chain themselves, as is done in the United States where dairy farmers form themselves into dairy cooperatives that engage in milk bottling, drying and cheese manufacturing.
Our country, Guyana, has had a lengthy ideological love affair with cooperatives, which perhaps peaked in the 1970s when the country was officially renamed the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and an ambitious economic development model of cooperative socialism was embraced. The experience with cooperatives has been mixed, to say the least. Alongside a few notable successes, there have been many failures. However, it would be disingenuous for the country to take the instances of weaknesses as justification for not re-embarking on a drive to revive cooperatives in the rural agriculture sector.
Rather than toss the baby out with the bath water, we should look to countries that have successfully deployed this uniquely democratic and community based way of organizing business and take their experiences as lessons which we may inculcate in our own bid to revive cooperatives.
Ortmann, Gerald F and Robert P. King. Small-scale farmers in South Africa: Can agricultural cooperatives facilitate access to input and product markets? Staff Paper Series. St. Paul : Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota , 2006.
Note: This is a follow-up post based on previous ideas expressed by this group. This post focuses on what the Priavte Sector can do to contribute to food security.
The private sector has a special role to play in food security, especially in rural areas. Through a process of vertical coordination in the rural agriculture sector, large agro processing firms can enhance the efficiency of farm operations, drive income growth in these regions and, therefore, augment the food security of rural dwellers. The literature suggests very strongly that increased income is positively correlated to improved food and nutritional security,
Contract farming, a tenet of what experts call the “industrialization of agriculture”, is regarded as a production arrangement with the potential to yield tremendous benefits for farmers.
Under a contractual arrangement, the contractor (agro processing firm, in this case) and farmer share the risk of agricultural production, and work together to mitigate these risks. For instance, contracted farmers are assured of a definite buyer for their produce and, maybe a fixed price, whereas an independent farmer are confronted by market vagaries such as low market access, as well as fluctuating prices.
Additionally, contractors can help farmers enhance their production techniques by providing them with extension services and technology which, if they (farmers) were independent, they might not be able to afford. Usually, because of lack of knowledge and concomitant risk averseness, farmers are hesitant to adopt new production techniques. Under contractual stipulations, however, and with ‘goading’ from the contractor, farmers are more likely to adopt modern agricultural techniques.
Through vertical coordination, agro processing firms help to correct the common issue of there not being credit markets that serve rural farmers. Whether as a result of uncertain land tenure, information asymmetry and monitoring costs, banks usually set high collateral requirements and interest rates which the independent farmer cannot afford. Because contractors set a standard for the output they contract independent farmers to produce, they have a more “hands-on” approach when dealing with farmers and to this end, contractors often supply inputs to farmers on credit.
However, vertical coordination does not automatically translate to improved incomes and greater food security for farmers. Large corporations (contractors) have been accused of underpaying farmers for their produce, as well as engaging in agriculture techniques which, while commercially favorable, are environmentally devastating. There has been, though, increased activism by NGOs, farmers rights groups, governments and international organizations, has strengthened the bargaining position of farmers and led to them receiving better terms under contracts.
At the turn of the 20th Century most developing nations successfully began to provide food for an exponentially increasing population through the industrialization of agriculture. Rapid increase in staples, such as rice and maize, and dairy products to upkeep with the never ending demands of the world’s population were possible through research and technological advances. Such products, through globalization, have begun to flood the markets of developing countries, such as Guyana.
Being an agriculture based economy, with a land size of 83,000 square miles and a stable population of 750,000 people, the country shows great potential and capacity in producing all the food its people demand. Rightly enough, through a National Strategy to improve nutrition, the country has managed to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty- the first MDG goal before the targeted year, implying an improvement in nutrition.
But to what extent? About 40% of Guyana’s adult population is overweight, where; nutrition and obesity-related diseases - diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease - are among the ten leading causes of death. The quality of food consumed by a country’s people is an issue that must be addressed by any government.
The Private sector and Civil Society Organizations definitely have an important role to play in this area of concern. The government on its own cannot improve the level of nutrition in an economy. The civil society organizations are more capable of mobilizing and educating the public on “smart eating”. CSOs are also capable of lobbying for the needs of the consumers at large, petitioning for policies, and implementation of policies that will better the nutrition of the people. For example, a relatively large portion of food consumed in Guyana is from imports, which consist of tinned foods, processed foods and preserved foods- all of which have negative long term impacts on health. CSO’s are of the capacity to curb such actions, representing the public health, by petitioning for policies to limit such imports. CSOs are also more capable in educating the Public through workshops and awareness sessions on issues relating to health and nutrition. In Guyana, the government can enable a framework to manage and monitor CSOs as done in Nepal to conduct such activities.
Similarly, private sectors can contribute in a greater way to the nutritional enhancements of Guyana, but with the aid of policies implemented by the Government. Being richly endowed with land and fertile soils, it possible that Guyana can produce most of what it eats. Incentives should be provided for farmers to plant more and then for the private sector to process our very own produce. For example, the demand for meat birds in Guyana is high. However when there is a shortage on the local market, private sectors would import chicken which is laden with steroids, (which is negatively correlated with health). Also eggs of such nature are also imported. The private sector of Guyana is more than capable of farming poultry meat and reaping eggs to meet the demand of the nation in a healthier way. The same can be said for other products, such as rice and sugar. The private sector should be motivated to engage and secondary levels of production using raw materials provided by our very own country. This would lead to Guyana capabilities in not only eradicating extreme hunger and poverty but to ensure proper nutrition.
It cannot be overemphasized how important policies implemented by the Government are towards enabling the Private Sector and CSO’s in improving nutrition.