In 2014, EcoViva advocated on behalf of corn and bean producers in El Salvador who supply the Salvadoran government with seed for the popular and successful Family Agriculture Program (PAF), a program that since its implementation in 2011 has served “as a catalyst for local economies and a tool to reduce poverty and strengthen food security and food sovereignty” in both the rural communities that supply seed and those that receive this critical assistance.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) argued that the Salvadoran government’s seed procurement rules for the PAF in 2012-2014 represented a breach of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Until the government ensured an open, transparent, and competitive process, U.S. foreign aid entity the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) threatened to hold back $277 million in assistance to El Salvador.
Advocates for rural development and food sovereignty worried that this maneuvering would give greater power to transnational companies like Monsanto and its subsidiaries at the expense of domestic cooperatives and small-scale producers. This was especially troubling as EcoViva showed that domestic producers, in fact, provided the Salvadoran government with a higher-quality product better suited for Salvadoran farm conditions – all at a cheaper price than transnational competitors offered. In addition, more producers and businesses were participating in the contested procurement process than ever before.
Ultimately, the U.S. Embassy declared it was satisfied with the reforms the Salvadoran government made, allowing the aid package to go forward, at least for now. In the latest round of procurement in February of this year, local producers – including five from the Lower Lempa – supplied 100 percent of the seed for PAF, once again providing affordable, quality seed to a record number of farmers nationwide.
An article published recently by Inside U.S. Trade entitled “El Salvador Shifts Procurement Process, Without Clear Gain For U.S. Firms” features EcoViva’s work, and recounts the international policy saga, while questioning why the U.S. took issue at all.
“Salvadoran policy changes have not had the effect of making U.S. producers more successful in El Salvador’s seed purchases, even while making it harder for Salvadoran producers to comply. Two of the largest U.S. seed companies, DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto, told Inside U.S. Trade in April that they had failed to secure contracts in this round of procurement, although they indicated they did not seem too upset about that outcome.”
You can read the full piece here: