In Nicaragua, half of the population lives
below the poverty line, and 40 per cent live in acute poverty. Since 1998,
the country has been buffeted by a devastating hurricane, followed by four
years of widespread drought, making the situation even worse for the majority
of the population who rely on agricultural produce.
Added to this, a worldwide recession has badly affected Nicaraguan coffee farmers. Over production in other parts of the world caused a huge drop in coffee prices in 2001. For those in Nicaragua, relying on the coffee industry for employment and a living, the effects have been devastating: quite simply, there has been no work and no money with which to buy food. Nearly half of the 500,000 jobs usually available during the harvest period were cut. Even those able to secure employment in the coffee plantations are not able to buy all their basic foodstuffs, as their salaries are even lower than before.
Christian Aid works with nine partners in Nicaragua, focusing on: sustainable agricultural production; preventative health care and education; promoting alternative trade and supporting local organisations to fight corruption.
Drought, floods and the coffee crisis have led to a 50 per cent drop in coffee production, resulting in a severe lack of food for coffee-producing families. PRODECOOP, SOPPEXCCA and the Community Movement of Matagalpa (MCM) are supporting agricultural production projects.
At the end of October 2002, representatives from SOPPEXCCA (fair trade coffee producer) and the Juan Francisco Paz Silva Co-operative (who supply sesame oil to the Body Shop) came to Britain on a speaking tour to describe the impact of fair trade and free trade on the coffee and sesame oil industries.