Food security and agriculture in the Western Highlands of Guatemala uri icon

abstract

  • Food security is a major challenge in Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in the world. Food insecurity is concentrated in the Western Highlands of Guatemala (WHG) where indigenous communities have been the main victims of social, political and economic marginalization. In this study we characterize the diversity of farming households in the WHG, identify the main sources of food for different types of farm households and assess their food security status through a simple, yet robust, potential food availability indicator. Based on a large and rich dataset of nearly 5000 farm households, our results show the diversity of farming systems in the region, dominated by maize and coffee production, as well as the large differences in their potential food availability. In our model, 52% of farm households in the WHG did not have the means to attain sufficient energy from their agricultural activities. In general, diversified maize-based, coffee-based and specialized coffee farm households had larger proportions of potentially food secure households with 60%, 83% and 74% food secure households, respectively. This contrasted with farm households specialized in maize production and resource-constrained households where there were a greater proportion of households were food insecure. The analytical framework presented here, combining a typology of farm households and their livelihoods with the analysis of their food security status, provides a useful approach for better targeting development interventions towards combating hunger, poverty and malnutrition.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019