Forgot Your Password?

Please enter your email address below. You will receive a link to reset your password.

    • Product added to your basket
Total $0.00

The Sustainable World

The Agave Growers of Ixmiquilpan - A Bright Future (3 of 3)

In the final part of our series, we take a closer look at the successes of the co-op in Ixmiquilpan. The development of the project over the past decade has in many ways been a story of broadening horizons; as one generation has grown to maturity, the next finds themselves in a new world. Ambitions which were unthinkable just 10 years ago are now coming to fruition.


The Agave Project (read Part 1 here) has come to be seen as a great alternative to the sadness and uncertainty of emigration: the opportunity to live a good life, to be involved in useful productive work, with options for a bright future. Before this, the old people would have to move to Mexico City or Pachuca (Hidalgo’s capital), while most of the younger men left for the United States. Many would move to Las Vegas for the construction industry, whereas others would work with cattle and agriculture in Nevada and Florida. Earlier in his life, Miguel (another leader in the co-op) worked for 12 years in the U.S. All his children were born there. He has now returned home together with his family, returning to the community where he was born. He has now spent 35 years working with Maguey, work which was done by his grandmother before him.


Each of the four groups in the Cooperativa has a leader such as Indalecio or Miguel who co-ordinates collection of produce and payment. Each leader has a program of requirements and Nekutli visits twice a month and reviews the program for the following two weeks. At the end of the month, they balance the books and the profits are divided: one part goes to the producer, another to the school, others to the hospital, medicine, food for families who can’t work etc. Each co-op is equal – they earn the same money, based on quantity of Agave produced. In the beginning this was difficult because the Maguey plants were all of a different age. This is why they implemented the nursery system. Now everyone can harvest and produce all year round, allowing them to receive money all the time. One of the co-ops in this group is exclusive to women; a serious social problem in the area is the disintegration of the family. A typical situation here is that when men migrate to the U.S., they initially send home money. As they spend longer in the U.S., it is not uncommon for them to develop a “second life”, so to speak. The money slowly stops being sent home, they meet another woman and begin a new family, and they lose their connection to the community. There are roughly 100 women in this exclusive co-op; they decided they did not wish to work with men any longer and prefer to determine their own future.


A new program which the co-op is financing involves farming sheep and goats to produce organic dairy and fair trade garments. The aim is to diversify offerings in the area, contributing to a sustainable future and facilitating the return of more people. A large part of this involves the ability to offer a good salary as compared to what can be earned across the border. A great source of pride to Indalecio are the opportunities which his family now have access to; his eldest granddaughter is currently studying agribusiness in university. Her intention is to return to the community upon completion of her degree and prepare a new project to assist in its development. In August, four co-op leaders (Miguel, Indalecio, Raul and Nora) traveled to Guadalajara to attend a conference. Root Capital and Fairtrade International gave them the chance to attend a training seminar which provided education in financial matters and business planning.


As we’re leaving, Senōr Manuel tells a beautiful story of a local family. In Denver, Colorado, he met a Mexican man who had lived there for a number of years. He and his family had constantly been on the move, avoiding the authorities and traveling for work. Florida for the orange harvest, Georgia for the peaches. They lived in a motor home. When he and his wife left for work at 4am, they had to lock the door of the motor home, leaving the children behind. They were afraid that if they didn‘t do this, they could be detected by U.S. immigration authorities and sent back to Mexico (a situation which is not unlikely – deportations from the U.S. are higher than ever before). Their little girl, who was 4-years-old, had always lived in the motor home and never really left it. When the family had the opportunity to return to Mexico, they jumped at it. They came home to a community, a family environment. Not so long ago their little girl spent all day alone in a trailer; now she can meet boys and girls the same age as her, go to school, be outside in the air and the sun.


We’re often assailed with terrible stories of global misery, poverty and underprivilege. These are not, however, the only stories. All over the world, the consciousness of how fair trade can improve lives is building. How you spend your money really matters; those dollars do not simply end up in the profits of others, but in many cases they continue to travel  - sometimes to the other side of the world, sometimes making a real difference to real lives.


Read Next: Gubinge - Real Health, Real Change

Browse By Stream
    Subscribe to Our Mailing List