Buy local!

Nicaragua have like many other Latin American countries survived on agriculture and they still do to a certain point. A lot of the land have been bought up by big foreign exploiters who own the land, let the Nicaraguans cultivate it, pays a small fee for the products, exports them to Europe or the United States and earn a lot more than they paid the farmer in the first step of the exportation. This is not a new phenomenon this is how it works in many parts of the food industry. When you buy that Pineapple at ICA from Costa Rica or Nicaragua for 10:- and think “wow that is so cheap so nice!”, think about how many hands it has passed on the way and that if you pay only 10:- for that juicy fruit, what did the farmer get?

Last year I did a tiny field study here in Nicaragua interviewing independent farmers who refused to give up their land and they told me about the struggles they face when trying to stay away from the big companies. When selling your land to a big co-operation they also own the product produced on the land. The independent farmers they own their land since generations back and they also own the products. To be safer and always have a product many independent farmers cultivate many different fruits instead of just one. This is not only good for them but also for the nature and the soil with changing crops that doesn´t drain it from nutrition. In one single farm you can find papaya, mango, squash, avocado, banana, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, carrot, onion and all kind of melons you can think of and lots more. Even if the many products reduce the opportunity to have large amounts they still secure themselves of having products all through the year since they all have different seasons. Sometimes the farmers can sell fruits to the foreign exporters when there is a big cry for something on the other side of the lake (Europe), one year it´s avocado, the next one it is mango but most of the products they sell on the local markets to the local people (or to me). It is always uncertain to be a farmer;

“Some years the rainy season will not come in time, not stop or not come at all. We are always dependent on the weather of course and if it is not on our side we stand without an income and can´t support our family” – Field notes April 2015.

When this happens they take loans from banks who are specialized on farmers and agriculture. When I asked how big the loans could be they told me BIG and told me amounts from 200-400$ (1800-3200:- ) that will take them years to pay back or they can negotiate about the land that they own with the bank. That seemed to be the biggest fear for many farmers, to lose their land that they often have owned for generations.

Pesticides I was told are not used if they really don´t have to. First of all they are expensive but foremost it is not good for the soil, fruit or us. This really surprised me actually. If these farmers on the countryside of Nicaragua gets it why doesn´t even the most well educated ones does? But the big companies do use the and it goes down in the groundwater and pollute the water that the farmers use for watering and drinking. That is another big problem in the region but maybe I will tell you about that another time.

So I thought I would just write about the amazing food that they here but now you got some background story as well. What I wanted to show with this is the importance of buying local and ecological! It may be a bit more expensive, but hey you can afford it and I you can´t well don´t buy it at all then. I can tell you that the fruits here are heavenly juicy, fresh and they get bad within a day or 2 if you don’t eat them, isn´t that incredible?! The avocados are as big as melons and the melons are as big as well what is bigger than a melon? And the first time I saw a REAL passionfruit big, round and smooth as an orange I thought to myself “well in Sweden we don´t have real fruit…it´s something else!”.

All in all I eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and beans…ohh I forgot to write about beans. Well you eat beans 3 times a day and they are gooood! They are good for your heart and they make you fart as a tipsy man once told me.

Every time I go to the market I know that the fruits come from local farmers who deserve every Cordoba that I pay for that banana or mango and I am more than happy to pay it. Do you know where your food comes from? I am not trying to judge anyone just remind you to think about it at home from time to time. It is a global market that we live in but don´t forget the local one 🙂

(Pictures of the great fruits are coming in a near future)

Take care everyone!

Dar – The City of Contrasts

If I didn’t see the sunrise and the sunset every day, I would have a very hard time to tell how long time has passed since I arrived. No day is the other day alike. One day here almost feels like a week somewhere else. There are so many new impressions, so many new surprises. I have been in Dar es Salaam for a bit more than two weeks now, and one thing that hits me every day is the vast contrasts this city offers.

IMG_2871For the last couple of weeks, I have been able to travel between different parts of society. From meetings with highly respected professors from Western well-known universities; to having dinner and drinks with people from the World Bank; to discuss development- issues with international and local NGOs; to meet local students; to talk to people who are trying to make a living from different small business; to see how the lower middle class is living; to go to the beach, and for a day feeling like a tourist… My life these weeks has been shifting. I have experienced the more simple life of the middle class in Dar. Travelling as they do, getting stuck in traffic jams, and standing in the dala dala (the local small bus) for hours without being able to move much, sweating a great deal, as well as walking through the flooded roads, and eating local food (rice and beans) at traditional places. From this, to the life of the expats: having fancy dinners in the top-roof restaurants in the city-center, and relaxing time in the tourist areas. I must say that the contrasts are striking.


These experiences can be seen as an expression of being privileged. I am a white young woman from a Western country, which might be the factor that enables me to travel between these different worlds, and be able to return to my safe hostel in the end of the day.

However, I am grateful that I didn’t do this trip at an even earlier age, because it is challenging. When I listen to Tanzanian students who have devoted their whole soul to somehow be able to pay the tuition-fees a little bit longer, and make their dream of education come true, I cannot help to compare it with my own situation. I was luckily born in a country where we have a system with free education, a monthly student-grant, and even can be awarded scholarships to write our theses in another country of our choice… Again: the contrasts.

So, to be white in some senses means to be advantaged. We may still have the opportunity to do things that others are not able to, and for this I believe that we should be very grateful. (And I also believe it is wrong, and it’s a quite post-colonial-mindset.)

Nevertheless, being a white woman here also includes many challenges. You can never walk un-noticed in the streets, IMG_2939never take the bus without getting many other offers of transportation, never be sure if the people you meet are helpful and friendly of good intentions (as I believe most people here are) or if you have met some of the few that just want to use you or hurt you. It is hard to tell when you should be suspicious and when you just should be thankful…

Thus, every day here is a challenge, and at the same time: a new adventure.