From Promises to Priorities

Putting small-scale, family producers at the center of a fair food production system in Latin America and the Caribbean

Publication date: 23 July 2013
Author: Gabriela Alcaraz V., Regional Research Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean

Despite agriculture being considered a strategic axis for development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), this has not resulted in major resource flow to the sector, nor in a resource allocation that promotes long term inclusive development, environmental sustainability, and the resilience of food producers towards adverse situations. Moreover, diminishing public resources allocated to agriculture during the past years and low levels of budgetary implementation observed in several initiatives and/or programs across the region, contrast with the contribution of the agricultural sector to the LAC economies and threaten domestic food production.

The current spending pattern shows that small-scale food production (which represents 8 out of every 10 agricultural producers), is not explicitly recognized in the budgetary planning and programming in most countries. Few expenditure categories that tend to favor commercial and conventional agricultural production capture a large proportion of the available resources, and resources allocated to sustainable natural resource management, the production of traditional crops, economic and entrepreneurial development of small-scale producers are low.

Women producers stand among the least favored by agricultural spending since their role as food producers is not equally recognized as that of males, they face more difficulties and obstacles for accessing diverse support and services, and resources specifically earmarked for them that have a productive focus, are minimum or null.

In order to achieve a fair food system in Latin America and the Caribbean countries, public investment in agriculture needs to have a different orientation. It needs to prioritize the differentiated needs and capacities of the productive sector and should really target, both in quantity and quality, the small-scale producers sector.

Key recommendations from the report

  • Make public spending transparent and more effective for agriculture, by facilitating access to information, monitoring and evaluating the impacts of public spending, and informing the population about the rationale of spending and actual use of public resources.

  • Promote equality, through differentiated spending that considers needs and capacities of the different actors involved in production and through inclusive and redistributive agricultural development proposals.

  • Guarantee the production of foods that are key to the national diet and national food security, with the objective of benefiting both producers and consumers

  • Promote sustainable agriculture and resilience in small-scale, family agriculture through the incorporation of risk analysis and the adoption of adaptation and mitigation measures, including risk transfer, that are appropriate for ensuring the food system´s sustainability and the resilience of producers in face of shocks to the system.