One farmer’s story to provide a future for his family in Guatemala. USAID, providing an alternate choice over irregular migration to the United States

Aditaim, a farmer in the Western Highlands of Guatemala walks between the rows of healthy tomato plants thinking about the path he took to get here. In the past, he and his family were barely able to grow enough food to survive. When many of his neighbors abandoned their fields and irregularly migrated to the United States in search of better opportunities, Aditaim ultimately bowed to the crushing pressures of poverty. He decided to follow his neighbors’ lead and used his life savings to pay a coyote to take him to the United States, leaving his family behind. Facing terrible hardships along the way, he reached the US border where he was caught and subsequently deported back to Guatemala. With no savings, his decision to migrate had placed his family in even greater jeopardy.

Upon his return, USAID offered Aditaim the resources needed to improve his agriculture techniques, better respond to market demands, and improve his family’s nutrition through diet diversification. He was skeptical of changing from the traditional farming practices used for generations in the Western Highlands, but soon found that he had a 120 percent increase in yield in his test plot.

USAID reduces poverty and chronic malnutrition in Guatemala’s Western Highlands by increasing farmer’s productivity, transforming crops into value-added products, and facilitating market access to generate income. This increases a community's resilience to challenges like climate change, natural disasters, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. It also creates powerful incentives for individuals to stay in their local communities and build better lives for their families, rather than accepting the risks inherent in irregular migration.

79% of indigenous Guatemalans live in poverty. Many see migration as their only option to improve their conditions. https://www.ine.gob.gt/ine/pobreza-menu/

Now, Aditaim is working in partnership with microfinance partners and increasing yields. As a result of his family’s increased income, he no longer has an incentive to leave Guatemala and has become a prominent member of his community, promoting techniques to increase yields, improve nutrition, and build greater income. As he walks his plots, he points out with pride the huge ripe tomatoes that are making him more self-reliant and providing a future for his family in Guatemala.

Aditaim is a beneficiary of the Feed the Future Guatemala Innovative Solutions for Agricultural Value Chains Project - PROINNOVA implemented by Agropecuaria Popoyán. The objective of the project is to increase agricultural incomes and improve resilience for small farmers and their families in five departments of the Western Highlands, while improving nutrition outcomes. Through improved food security and increased economic opportunity in the region, the program combats the core drivers of irregular migration, building greater opportunities at home. Photos: PRO-INNOVA and Rural Value Chains Project/AGEXPORT

Created By
Benjamin Ilka


Rural Value Chains Project/AGEXPORT