Together with Oxfam and Fundación Redes, we presented a recently released analysis of the Salvadoran government’s seed program at the public forum “Planting Seeds for Food Sovereignty in El Salvador.” The event had over 200 people in attendance, including farmers, community members, the Minister of Agriculture, legislators, non-government organizations, and public institutions.
The study outlined the successes of the government’s seed program. Prior to the Family Agriculture Plan (PAF), 80% of the corn seed market was dominated by three agribusinesses, with one company supplying 40% of the total government demand. After passing the transitory decrees in 2012 and 2014, the government purchased from 16 producers, eight cooperatives and eight businesses. In 2015, under the standard contracting regulations, the government purchased from 13 producers and bought nearly 50% of their demand from cooperatives, in an open and transparent process. The program has created 81,000 direct jobs, with over 2,000 employed by rural cooperatives in the Lower Lempa. 60% of these jobs are filled by women.
More key highlights from the report:
- Of every 10 households engaged in the production of basic grains in Central America, 6 of those households suffer from nutritional food insecurity[i].
- Basic grains like corn and beans make up the largest share of El Salvador´s GDP for agriculture, or 38% of total agricultural output.
- The productivity of corn was 45.6 qq /mz, between 2004 and 2009. Between 2010-2014, it increased to 46.36 qq /mz. El Salvador maintains the highest level of productivity of corn in the region[ii].
- According to a 2007 Agricultural Census, small farms account for over 68% of all farm operations in El Salvador[iii]. Small farms contribute 74% of national corn production, 70% of sorghum and 78% of bean production.
- Until 2012, El Salvador imported more white corn than any of its Central American neighbors. In 2014, El Salvador imported 94% less compared to 2011, the year with the highest importation rates over the last decade.
- In 2014, El Salvador was able to provide seed to 66% more small scale farmers than in 2008, when the public budget was the same, but with less productive, more expensive seed.
- The 2013-2014 harvest saw a record production of 22.5 million quintals of white corn. Over the last decade, corn production increased from 14 million quintals in 2004-2005 to 20.4 million quintals in 2012/2013, with the greater use and application of certified national seed. Similarly, bean production increased from 1.9 to 2.4 million quintals in the same period.
[i] PRESANCA- FAO 2011, Centroamérica en cifras. Datos de Inseguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional y Agricultura Familiar.
[ii] IICA 2014, Cadena de Maíz y Frijol de Centroamérica. Actores, Problemas y Acciones para su Competitividad, San José, Costa Rica.
[iii] Pequeñas explotaciones se refieren a aquellas menores de 2 hectáreas.