MEXICO CITY– Mexico experienced its fair share of adversities in 2013, consequently affecting the lives of millions of people living in urban and rural settings. Even though Mexico owns the 12th largest economy in the world, high levels of poverty still remain, particularly in rural areas and states where large indigenous populations currently reside. In some southern states such as Chiapas and Oaxaca, limited access to basic services, natural resources and educational services have hindered growth. Of the estimated 25.2 million people living in rural Mexico, nearly 51 percent live in poverty, with an additional 18 percent living in extreme poverty.
Doing their best to aid struggling rural populations, the United Nations with the participation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have launched the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) for 2014. This global acknowledgment aims at increasing the status of family and smallholder farmers who play a significant role in reducing hunger and boosting the economy. Led by the Mexican Network for Family Farming, composed of more than 20 institutions, promotion of the IYFF will be carried out by multiple government and civil society actions.
One of the organizations at the forefront of the campaign is the Hunger Project-Mexico, which has been active in the region since 1983 and has carried out gender-focused building strategies for rural municipals. While the Hunger Projects top priority is to ensure women’s full political, economic and social participation, it also aims at designing long-terms developmental plans which advocate access to critical resources and services. By promoting family farming and agriculture, the impact is expected to yield positive results.
Through simple core strategies, the Hunger Project will provide support on the ground by facilitating the following objectives in an effort to promote family farming and stability.
1. Training of Trainers Workshops
Working with local government agencies and related organizations, volunteers join a team of trainers who conduct Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops. This is the first step to social mobilization and paves the way for increasing impact and lasting relationships with civil societies in each state.
2. Local Governance
Working with government officials who are closet to the citizens, partnerships are built to achieve local goals. By prioritizing developmental plans, it will provide continuity and progress to transitioning administrations.
3. Investing in Youth
Students at the Monterrey Institute of Technology have partnered with the Hunger Project by creating the Social Enterprise Incubator. This initiative supports small business and women entrepreneurs by assisting in financial and legal training.
4. Advocating Developmental Policy
The Hunger Project also serves on the Consultative Council to the National Ministry of Social Development which listens to the voices of rural people. One of 10 non-governmental organizations, the Hunger Project takes into account the priorities of rural populations in regards to national developmental policies.
These objectives work hand in hand with IYFF activities in Mexico and will provide improved food security and nutrition programs for struggling populations. Because family farming is such a predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector, it is increasingly important to maintain stability and preserve traditional food products in the upcoming year, a reality that Mexico is prepping itself for.
– Jeffrey Scott Haley
Sources: The Hunger Project, Food and Agriculture Organization
Photo: One Degree Organics