Food sovereignty is an important issue in El Salvador. It is the issue of whether the country, its farmers and its consumers can be largely self-sufficient in the area of basic foodstuffs and not dependent on imports and the whims of world markets. One area where the discussion of food sovereignty is focused is corn -- the basic food staple of El Salvador.
On the EcoViva blog, there is a detailed discussion of this topic and pressure being exerted by the US in a post titled Seeds of Food Sovereignty Grow in the Shadow of CAFTA. Here is an excerpt:
The Family Agriculture Program is part of the left-leaning Salvadoran government’s strategy to promote food sovereignty in a country that has a long history of food insecurity, social conflict, and ecological degradation related to industrial agriculture. It has strengthened the technical ability and capacity of local agricultural cooperatives to cultivate seeds and food so crucial for the food security of the nation and the rural economy. The seed component of the program has resulted in record corn production since its implementation, and generates more than one million daily wages each year in rural areas where local economies rely almost entirely on agriculture. In 2013, through domestic seed production, the Family Agriculture Program invested $25 million in the Salvadoran economy and the rural cooperatives and associations that supply it.Read the rest of the article on this important topic here.
Capitalizing upon the opportunity to leverage the approaching $277 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) U.S. aid package, however, the U.S. Embassy has recently called into question the legality of the seed program, citing section 9.2 of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). This article stipulates that both international and domestic providers receive equal consideration in the procurement of goods and services. Though clearly an issue acknowledged through El Salvador’s bi-lateral trade relationship housed with the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the MCC, has instead called for the opening of El Salvador’s domestic seed program to greater competition, including traditional ties with Monsanto and its respective subsidiaries. This seemingly contradicts the MCC’s own mandate, their El Salvador country performance scorecard for good governance indicators, and, ironically, the current competitive nature of the seed program.