Small coffee producers in Nicaragua have faced a crisis as the coffee export price has halved since the 1990s. This article examines the role of fair trade in stabilizing prices for small coffee producers, and compares the prices all along the supply chain of the instant coffees, Nestlé and Cafédirect. Although Cafédirect's price guarantee has prevented producers from going bankrupt, it is clear that the processing and retail side has become more expensive since the 1990s, partly as a result of the small volumes traded. Cafédirect's high prices compared with commercial brands are likely to ensure that it remains small, and therefore only benefits a minority of producers. The authors examine the options for Nicaragua's small coffee producers and recommend that the producers upgrade their production and post-harvest technologies to produce high-quality specialty coffees which can command high prices even without a fair trade tag. They also recommend that the co-operatives be strengthened to be less inefficient and more accountable to their membership.
Household-microenterprise – the missing link in gendered value chain analysis: lessons from an analysis of dairy chains in Nicaragua
In Nicaragua, gender analysis in value chains is usually restricted to a study of men and women as producers or workers within the chain itself. This overlooks many relevant dimensions of gender struggles. We therefore propose a gender analysis in value chains that pays attention to the interrelation of the value chain with intra-household dynamics in microenterprises and the broader community. We apply our approach to two dairy chains, not to compare which is better for women producers but to show the gender complexity in both that needs to be considered in value chain analyses. Based on case studies, we identify gender differentiation overlapping with conflictual-cooperative relations between men and women within the sphere of economic and family relations in the two dairy chains.
In 2005, the Fondo de Desarrollo Local (FDL) gained the international Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) prize for the best non-regulated microfinance institution in Latin America. A year later, in 2006, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) selected the FDL from 78 Central American MFIs as the winner of its Award for Excellence in Microfinance Management. Its leadership in the Latin American Rural Microfinance Association (FOROLAC), its exceptional outreach to rural producers and its development orientation, coupled with entrepreneurial viability and extraordinary sustainability, contributed with these recognitions. Nevertheless, analysing the incentives and pressures emanating from the current mainstreaming microfinance paradigm, this article expresses deep concerns about the anti-rural and anti-agricultural bias of international microfinance policies and the negative effects that they engender for the further growth of microfinance for a more dynamic and socially inclusive agricultural development in Latin America.
Within the context of a buoyant cattle sector in Nicaragua, industrial upgrading of the dairy value chain is widely considered as a positive contribution to growth and equity. That view, however, is based on a genderblind assessment of value chain dynamics. This article presents a gendered analysis of two dairy value chains in Nicaragua. The first is a more locally oriented, urban-based, semi-industrial chain with ample participation of small-scale family businesses; the second an export-oriented, upgraded industrial chain, where associative enterprises are the main players. Our analysis shows that industrial upgrading comes at the cost of reduced female participation. Remedial action to counteract this gender bias is required.
Drawing from discussions on the panacea problem in microfinance and natural resource management, we scrutinize a ‘green microfinance plus’ programme – Proyecto CAMBio – in a specific setting in Nicaragua, focusing in particular on its interaction with local development pathways. The programme was designed to promote biodiversity-friendly land uses through the combination of credit provision, technical assistance and conditional economic incentives. In our case study, we highlight the focus on individual producers, the implicit targeting of more established medium-sized producers, and the uncritical promotion of a particular technical model of production. The project might thereby have failed to identify and revert some negative processes of environmental degradation and did not consciously engage with the dynamics and political arenas of sustainable development. We call for a more holistic territorial perspective that is conducive to more strategic thinking about the interactive socio-technical dynamics and ensuing opportunities and constraints for different producer types and technical-commercial models. Such strategic reflection is both inevitable and political, as it impacts on the opening and closing of avenues for more or less socially inclusive and environmentally sound development pathways.