Farmers, Development, and the Temptation of Nitrogen: Controversies about Sustainable Farming in Nicaragua


Agrarian development is a controversial issue in the Nicaraguan countryside. The state, international organizations, churches, and NGOs all attempt to intervene in the practices and worldviews of small farmers to make them attain a supposedly higher level of organization and efficiency. Implicit is the idea that progress has to be made in farming practices, which is measured first and foremost in yield per hectare. This article analyzes how the different agricultural development discourses and the programs and projects attached to them play out in the actual practice of farming. In spite of the overwhelming financial power of certain development projects, farmers in Nicaragua create and sustain their own strategies for their land.