THE DILEMMA OF EXPORT RIVIVAL: NICARAGUAN AGRICULTURE AT A TURNING POINT
The general chronology of the past 40 years of Nicaraguan history is written into the crops of the land and their harvests. The 1950-1979 period is associated with the agroindustrial expansion, whose exhaustion may have been reached by the closing years of the Somoza dynasty ( 1936-1979) during the reign of Luis and Anastasio Somoza. 1 + ̰/ Under Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista government ( 1979-89), with its own priorities constrained by the external embargo and the contra war, devoted resources and policy attention to agrarian reform and the promotion and maintenance of agriculture. 2 + ̰/ In the Violeta Chamorro ( 1990-to present) period, much foreign aid and national effort is being directed to unknotting agriculture, resolving land claims, rationalizing prices, and restoring an agribusiness orientation ( Nicaragua, 1991a; CARANA and Sparks, 1991).
This chapter traces the growth of Nicaraguan agriculture from 1950 to 1991, especially the competition and complementarity of the export and food crops. An input-output model is then developed for the Nicaraguan economy in 1986 in order to measure the sectoral orientation toward dependency on imports and exports: in short, the extent to which internal "linkages" had been created and "leakages" abroad were undermining efforts to integrate the local economy. The input-output structure of Nicaragua's crops is compared with comparable U.S. sectors. The chapter concludes with some reflections about the dilemmas facing Nicaragua as it seeks to reestablish its export agriculture and agroindustrial orientation.
From the initial years of the agroindustrial expansion in the early 1950s to its peak in the late 1970s, the share of Nicaragua's total land area in crops and pasture rose from 17 to 45 percent, reaching 51 percent by the late 1980s. (See Table 12.1, line 1.) Of this increasing farmland area, more than one- fifth