Despite converging agendas identifying the importance of farm and livelihood diversification as a key strategy to help reduce disaster risk, conserve biodiversity, reduce climate emissions, improve food security, and build resilience in agriculture and food systems (Kremen and Merenlender 2018; Hufnagel et al., 2020), contentious debates continue about how to accelerate broader food system transformations, who should lead them, and where they are going (e.g., the 2021 UN Food Summit). The influential 2016 report of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, which analyzed obstacles and opportunities for moving from either traditional subsistence agriculture or industrialized monoculture towards diversified agroecological farming (IPES-Food 2016), helped shift the policy agenda toward an alternative approach to food systems transformation (Gliessman & Ferguson, 2020). However, several assumptions about farmers’ initial starting conditions oversimplified how smallholder farmers begin potential transitions. In practice, many smallholders are neither purely subsistence producers nor entirely specialized commodity farmers; instead they combine subsistence and commercial agriculture to try to make a living, feed themselves, shape their cultures, and achieve their self-defined goals (Burnett & Murphy, 2014). Despite recent studies addressing several of these issues (Kerr et al., 2019), research gaps remain, including the absence of broad-based empirical evidence on which diversification strategies are most likely to contribute to farmers’ dietary diversity, food sovereignty, food security, women’s empowerment, and resilience, and under what circumstances; how smallholders learn about these practices and why they adopt or avoid them; and how cooperatives or other institutions promote (or may retard) them. We seek to fill these gaps using a mixed-methods, place-based study.
Bacon, Christopher M.; Sundstrom, William; Gomez, Maria Eugenia Flores; Griggs, Kylie; and Diaz, Raul, "Learning resilience: Household and institutional responses to multiple livelihood threats in the context of Hurricanes Iota and Eta in northern Nicaragua" (2022). Presented by them at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meetings. (virtual). New York. March. Poster.