EPPN Alert: Foreign Aid Should Support Local Agriculture Efforts
Migel's small plot of maize crop appeared infested with weeds; tall green plants disrupted the ordered rows of corn stalks. But Migel explained that the green legume, indigenous to Chiapas, Mexico, functioned as a natural fertilizer by extracting nitrogen from the air and enriching the soil.
Migel then took us to his garden. He had interspersed basil and oregano plants among his tomatoes and peppers. Their powerful smell keeps away harmful insects ("the plague", as he calls them). Migel showed us the sturdier plants he uses as natural barriers to water flows, pointed out the leafy Chaya greens that are rich in calcium and fiber, and proudly displayed his thriving compost system.
With the help of the faith-based Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation (AMEXTRA), Migel had discovered Chiapas' indigenous secrets to a sustainable, healthy farm. These natural methods have been overlooked or become forgotten by many farmers in the region, who struggle to feed their families.
Migel now works with AMEXTRA to reintroduce these traditional and holistic agrarian practices to rural farmers, which strengthen their crop yields and their abilities to feed nutritious meals to their families.
This plight of food insecurity in rural Chiapas represents the cycles of extreme hunger and poverty that countries around the world committed together to reverse and alleviate through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Regrettably, these pernicious cycles of extreme poverty persist today.
But Migel's farm (which I toured at the start of the final 1,000 days of the MDGs) and his mission are a paragon of the promise of the MDGs. With the combined support of local and global partners, Migel implements environmentally-sustainable farming techniques that enhance the food security, nutrition, and health of his family and the communities in which he works.
In these final 1,000 days of the MDGs, we must redouble our investments in programs and partnerships that enable such durable, sustainable, nutritious local agricultural systems; empower local families; and buttress local economies.
Yesterday, President Obama proposed a comprehensive restructuring of U.S. food assistance policies to make them more flexible, cost effective, and expansive. These reforms would enable more U.S. food aid to be purchased from rural farmers around the world, thus strengthening local agricultural development and food security for rural communities—like those in the rolling hills of Chiapas—at risk of extreme hunger and poverty.
Urge your Senators and Representative to support reforms that would strengthen local agriculture, nutrition, health, and environmental sustainability for those who are most vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity.