In the Western Highlands of Zunil, Guatemala, local farmer Don Pedro Chay owns about an acre of land in the rich fertile valley. His typical crop production consists of cilantro, onions and radishes. While climate change has definitely impacted his harvest, Chay said a deal the Guatemalan government made with Mexico to import the very same products he produces at much cheaper prices has been detrimental for the sale of his crops.
According to Chay, the Free Trade Agreement with Mexico is hurting profits for local farmers. There are no large tracts of land, he says. It's not like California or Mexico. Since his land produces very little, Chay distributes very small onions as his main business. Even if his land allowed it, selling more local produce would be extremely difficult in the import saturated market.
In Guatemala City, the Central Market Place offers an abundance of produce, but they are all imported from outside the country leaving small farmers unable to compete, especially considering the costly tax on export products.
He told spectrumnews1.com: "I would like the government to promote the consumption of local crops in order to have a job and not migrate to another country. I don't want my son to go looking for work in America. I want him to be able to make a life here."
What Guatemalans need to make a life in the country, as opposed to migrating north, is better agricultural technology to work the land more efficiently, Chay said. He believes better education, fair salaries and trade deals that benefit the country and its people would help slow the surge of migration.
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