Resilient for Whom? The Commercialization of Agriculture and Food Security in Guatemala

When and Where

Monday, October 26, 2020 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm


Prof. Ryan Isakson, Geography, University of Toronto Scarborough


Despite producing a significant share of the global food supply, small-scale agricultural producers account for the majority of the approximately 840 million humans who currently suffer from chronic malnutrition. While many development actors maintain that further integrating smallholder farmers into global markets will help to alleviate poverty and hunger in agrarian communities, academic research tells a more complicated story. Drawing upon the experiences of peasant farmers in the Guatemalan highlands, Professor Isakson's presentation will discuss how the transition from subsistence-oriented maize agriculture to the cultivation of fresh fruits and vegetables destined for North American and European markets has impacted food security in the country and re-shaped the vulnerability of agricultural producers to economic and environmental stressors. The vulnerability of Guatemalan farmers, in turn, is linked to resiliency of globalized food supply chains.

This is a School of Cities Seminar Series "Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains"

Supply chains are the primary societal infrastructure for the production, delivery, and recycling of goods and services. Though sometimes invisible, supply chains are the systems that ensure that flour is available in your grocery store, that hospitals have sufficient personal protective equipment, and that there are enough trained staff to administer medical tests, deliver babies, and check-out your groceries. While much of the effort in supply chains over the past 50 years has been to make them agile, fast, and cheap, there is a growing realization that supply chains must be able to adapt to disruptions from local events such as the inability for a plane to land due to weather to global changes such as the closing of the US-Canada border due to COVID-19.

This seminar series seeks to develop a multi-disciplinary understanding of resilient supply chains by examining two which are of critical importance to everyday life: food and health supply chains. The talks in this series look at these supply chains, both independently and together, through the inclusion of diverse speakers representing at least the following perspectives:

  • Supply Chain Optimization 
  • Northern and Remote Food and Health Security
  • Urban Food Systems
  • Systems of Food Production
  • Healthcare Systems

Register here

This is a School of Cities Seminar Series "Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains"