Econ & Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans

Desarrollo Economico Social de los Mexicanos Indigenas (DESMI) provides financial, organizational and technical assistance to help community groups carry out their own projects and work together in resolving community needs. DESMI supports the development of indigenous collectives of corn and coffee production, animal husbandry, crafts production and opening local grocery stores with the goal of creating an integrated network of producers and consumers as backbone to a strong rural economy.
Nov 16, 2009

Agriculture in San Francisco, Teopisca

Thanks to your support, many exciting activities have been taking place.

In the community of San Francisco, Teopisca, 8 collective members are growing organic vegetables for training purposes. The update from the field reports that they grew 3,100 red and white onions using vermicomposting (composting with worms) and they had very good results. Through support from DESMI, they learned how to add sheep and cow manure into the compost together with the worms. The benefit of this is to help multiply the worms, producing even more rich compost.

The land they cultivate is owned by the collective and distributed equally between the collective members. The collective will now try to grow maize with organic fertilizers.

They are currently in the process of learning how to save seeds so they don't have to spend money to buy seeds. For example, they are letting the onion flowers grow so they can collect the seeds to plant again. In addition to onions, they also grow beetroots, squash and lettuce.

This project was started as a response to women not being able to afford vegetables in the market. The practical solution was to grow their own produce. Now they have plenty of vegetables and are even able to share with their neighbors.

DESMI staff continues to support them in strengthening their work and with technical assistance. The group meets every Friday to talk about what plants they will grow, how they will prepare the soil, etc. This is but one of many successful organic agriculture projects that continues to be advance with your support!

Jul 2, 2009

Why Sustainable Agriculture Matters

Our latest report from the field is about two female agroecology “promoters” in the Pinebetal community in Municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Along with their families, these women are practicing sustainable agriculture and sharing their skills with others thanks to your continued support. They share their experiences on a variety of sustainable agricultural methods, such as: • Diversified crops: On the plots they are growing corn, bean, potato, turnip, pea and coriander crops, as well as peach trees. In the backyard they sow coriander, radish, turnip, cabbage and oat seeds. The promoters say that “working with agroecology is part of being healthy. If you have a range of different crops it means your diet is varied; you’re not just eating corn and beans, but other kinds of foods too”. • Soil recovery: “We came from the hot lands, where a lot of corn grows because of the climate there. When we came here, the land was barren and badly degraded. We talked about it and said (we would have) to get working on soil conservation, but it was just an idea. A short time later we started work. Now we only buy corn every two months, but before it only yielded two hundred kilos per hectare, and now it’s a thousand”. The starting point for this thinking is to work on soil conservation, so that the other tasks of incorporating organic materials and fertilizers prove to be more effective. • Use of fertilizers: The families in this community make various types of solid and liquid organic fertilizers. By applying these organic fertilizers and conserving the soil, production has increased from 200 to 1,000 kilos per hectare. • Use and conservation of native seeds: Corn, bean, vegetable and fruit seeds are native to the region. Year after yearm they perform seed selection with the aim of conserving them; these seeds, as well as being used locally, are shared with other promoters from other communities.

Apr 6, 2009

Fruit Of The Good Earth

Thanks to your continued support the coffee cooperative “Ssit lequil lum,” (Fruit Of The Good Earth) in the northern part of Chiapas continues to report back many successes.

Since our last update on Fruit of the Good Earth in December 2007, the cooperative has succeeded in acquiring much sought-after export permits. They immediately took orders for Europe. They successfully signed contracts and exported whole bean organic coffee to 4 countries: Tatawelo in Italy; Solidarity Café in France, Free World in Italy, Osporos in Greece and Café Liberty in Germany.

Currently, the members are building the capacity of the cooperative. This involves some technical support and DESMI is assisting the group in developing accounting protocols and maintaining fiscal responsibilities with the local tax authority to solidify their legal status as a commercial entity. This means they need to stay on top of the many necessary registrations and certifications.

The cooperative does not just grow coffee. The farmers also grow citrus fruits and bananas, and other small-scale crops. This diversifies their crops and their incomes. DESMI has been helping with the search for new markets for these crops.

More About Fruit Of The Good Earth

The cooperative is comprised of 594 members (coffee producers) from 5 autonomous municipalities, from both the Mayan Chol and Tzeltal ethnic groups. It includes 555 men and 39 women from 45 different communities. Over 2,900 people indirectly benefit from the cooperative.

The members take extraordinary pride in preserving indigenous culture and unity despite being from different ethnicities and language groups.

By organizing collectively, the farmers gain the scale they need to sell their products directly to exporters. This eliminates the need for middlemen and increases their profits.

Training programs help the cooperatives achieve export quality and obtain organic certification for their coffee crops. Just as importantly they develop knowledge to grow a wide variety of organic food crops for consumption and local sale.

The diversification of crops improves family nutrition (a critical need in this part of Mexico with the highest malnutrition rates in the country) and economic security while nourishing the soil for future generations.

Donate to DESMI now, through April 28 and in honor of Earth Day (April 22) GlobalGiving will match your donation at 50%. Please share your support of these coffee farmers with your family and friends.