Agros International Programs
Landlessness is a reliable predictor of rural poverty. Land ownership is the cornerstone of Agros' integrated model of developing sustainable communities. Land is a fundamental asset to the rural poor providing income, nutrition, security, and a voice in community. Land ownership combined with a holistic development model brings tremendous change in the lives of the rural poor, including: improved quality of life; increased income; improved land quality; stronger communities; improved health; better educational opportunities and reduced rural-urban migration.
Credit is one tool that Agros uses to help rural poor families break out of devastating poverty. Enterprise loans provide entrepreneurial farmers, including a significant number of women in Agros villages, the opportunity to invest in cash crops or start small businesses for the first time in their lives. Such loans are essential to these families, who typically have no access to credit (most Agros villagers would not qualify to receive a loan from a micro-finance institution). Agros provides prospective loan recipients training in writing business plans and management skills.
Women play a critical role in the survival strategies and the economy of poor rural households. Roughly 85% of the people in Agros villages are women, children and youth. The Agros model empowers women by including them in all aspects of community education and training including leadership development; nutrition, hygiene and literacy training; and village development. In Agros villages, women gain legal title to land along with their husbands and have access to credit and training to start small businesses resulting in economic and social benefits for entire families
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Maria and her husband struggled to survive for years in the Ixil region of Guatemala, where poverty rates run as high 81%. Diego traveled miles in search of work to support their eight children. The brutal civil war that tore through their homeland destroyed Maria and Diego’s home and they were forced to live with Maria’s mother, the entire family sharing a single room.
But thanks to her partnership with Agros, Maria’s family now has enormous opportunity; today she and Diego have built a new home with room for their whole family in the Agros community of Cajixay. Instead of traveling miles in search of work, they grow snow peas on a plot of land they’ll soon own, and sell them through an international export contract. Most importantly, the income from their crops has helped to finance the education of their children, some of whom have even gone on to become teachers and nurses.
Maria recently said, “Agros does not just teach, but accompanied us during the whole process. Thanks to this support, my income has improved, my family and I have better living conditions, and we are also able to help others in the community.”
To date, Agros has established over 40 rural agricultural communities in Central America and Mexico assisting over 14,000 rural poor men, women and children like Maria break out of devastating poverty. The Agros mission is not about charity. It’s about hope, opportunity and lasting transformation. Our model is entrepreneurial, complex, and focused on long-term results. Our continued response to the need in the field must be shaped by our capacity to raise funds to implement the Agros model to provide the opportunity for thousands more rural poor men, women and children realize a new future.