Himalayan Institute Mexico is working with the Jonotla University to combat rural exodus and to restore family farming as a respectable and commercially viable career.
The challenges facing the youth of Jonotla, a town of 3000 in southern Mexico, are only too common. For the last several decades, the focus of university agronomy programs across the developing world has been on chemical-heavy fertilizers and pesticides. These methods, which have allowed corporate-backed farms to produce huge volumes of crops at the cost of long term health to the land, water and the consumer, have also been adopted by small-scale farmers. Decades later, adolescents in Jonotla see their parents struggling under agricultural debt-burdens that only increase with time, and many choose to leave in the hopes of finding work in Mexico’s cities.
“The new generation’s interest in agriculture and our agronomy programs is dying and the community is suffering because of the loss of students studying and remaining in Jonotla,” laments Jonotla University’s College Director. “This means that the knowledge of farming is also leaving and people are relying on packaged food, resulting in increased health problems here. We need to introduce a more progressive and sustainable method of farming into our curriculum, the kind that the new generation is interested in.”
That’s where Himalayan Institute Mexico comes in. The university brings its undergrads to HI Mexico’s Energy Farming campus for hands on training in sustainable farming practices. The new curriculum adds value to the Jonotla University’s agronomy program and is already attracting environmentally conscious young people. Farmers who grow organic have a valuable commodity to bring to market, one whose value is increasing as Mexico’s rising business class becomes more concerned with diet and health.