Food Security for Sale? A Study on the Impact of Commercialisation in Local Farmers' Markets on the Access to and Utilisation of Food in Huánuco, Peru
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Food security is not only a problem in sub-Saharan Africa; also Latin American countries still face hunger and malnutrition. In Peru, a draft legislation on the promotion of local farmers’ markets shall improve the situation of the poor Andean farmers by obliging local municipalities to organise regular markets. Based on a fieldwork in Huánuco, Peru, this thesis illustrates the relation between the commercialisation of agricultural products in local farmers’ markets and the food security of the participating farmers. Taking the draft legislation as a framework, a survey with the markets participants in the three markets of Huánuco was used to clarify what impact the commercialisation can have on the farmers’ access to and the utilisation of food. This thesis shows that the farmers sell a relatively high share of their production, including tubers, animals, fruits and vegetables. Instead of consuming their own produce, the farmers rely on food purchases where they spend a good portion of their earnings on processed aliments like rice, oil, pasta, sugar and salt. Most of the farmers base their diet on a small variety of aliments such as rice, maize, potato, beans and pasta. Although the farmers also consume regional products frequently, many of them only consume a small share of their own production. The consumption patterns indicate that the farmers do not balance their diet appropriately. The farmers have knowledge about the nutritional value of the aliments they consume but the consumption habits are dominated by local perceptions of an adequate diet that includes the daily consumption of rice. It is recommended to include a thorough educational aspect when markets are to be established under the new law. Both municipalities and the associations that organise the markets need to ensure that farmers can increase their knowledge on nutrition, marketing and sanitation. Thereby, famers can be incentivised to consume their most nutritious aliments, instead of selling them.