Does Gender Matter for the
Nutritional Consequences of Agricultural
Transfers, Food Acquisition, and
Export Cropping in Guatemala
Improving the nutritional status of poor households is often an important implicit or explicit goal of income generation strategies such as agricultural commercialization. However, there is a fair amount of controversy surrounding the strength of relationship between increases in household income and greater access to and intake of nutritious foods, particularly when those increases in income are based on the displacement of subsistence crops and/or are biased in favor of men, who may have a lesser propensity to spend marginal income gains on food for the family. In this chapter, I seek to assess the nutritional impact of export agriculture in the Central Highlands of Guatemala, working within a conceptual framework that accounts for the mediating influences of changes in household income, subsistence food production, and alterations in intrahousehold resource transfers.
First, I review the characteristics of the most recent wave of exportoriented agricultural commercialization in Guatemala, including the concentration of the new crops among smallholding farmers, the consequent reliance on family labor for production, and the male bias in the accrual of income. Next, I briefly review the literature on income and nutrition in developing countries, summarizing the findings of the major works exploring the relationship between increases in income—particularly income from cash cropping—and nutrient demand. A third section provides a descriptive analysis of food use in Highland Guatemala, including acquisition patterns and nutrient adequacy and diversity, and estimates the elasticities of several nutritional indicators with respect to household income for adopters and nonadopters of agricultural export crops. In the fourth section, I develop a gender-disaggregated model of household resource allocation in which the