Paul Webster describes the growing problem of hunger in rural Guatemala and explains why Canada could fight hunger more effectively without free trade.
“We have to increase the productivity of small farmers and enable them to generate income,” Oda says. Sounds sensible enough—until you look at the hunger problem from the perspective of hungry Guatemalan peasants. With the best land in the country used for export crops, local corn and grain growers have little room for expansion. Moreover, says Sigüenza, no amount of foreign aid can undo the damage done to local farmers by the flood of cheap foreign food imports, most notably the American grains now supplied to Guatemalan cities free of tariffs, thanks to a 2006 trade agreement. This cheap foreign food is robbing local growers of any chance of getting a toehold in their own markets. Without access to those markets or
arable land, huge numbers of subsistence farmers are locked in a struggle for survival in which they can neither generate income nor grow enough food to feed their own families. And as Canada continues its own long-standing efforts to negotiate a free-trade deal with Guatemala, small-scale Guatemalan farmers fear more harm is on its way.
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