Developing commercial farmers - creating path to land ownership for the poor
From a film by Faith & Co
Agros International is dismantling generational poverty in Central America by reconnecting people with land ownership. Agros purchases large tracts of land and invites landless families to join a village, where members buy for their land by building agri-businesses and working cooperatively to manage the community. Then Agros does it again … and again.
Skip Li, a young lawyer, went to a church service in Seattle one Friday night and listened to a speaker - Juan Carlos Ortiz. Juan remarked that US spending on supplying weapons to various conflicts in Central America could have bought all the land the poor needed. For the poor in those countries, land is the foundation of economic wellbeing. If you own your own land, there's hope. Skip could not get rid of this idea. It pursued him.
He thought, "Why can't we do land reform privately?". He visited Guatemala and met the indigenous people that had fled the violence. The poverty was generational, not just a few generations. This was poverty going back hundreds of years to the time when the Spanish conquistadors came in and took land, vast, vast swaths of land, away from the indigenous peoples. That kind of poverty creates a sense of despair that is unspoken, that always present.
He founded Agros. which works with the poorest people in the world and in some of the most difficult areas in the world. They go to a country in Latin America, and they buy, with the help of donors in USA, large tracks of land. They look for the poorest families that live in those areas, and invite them to come to the property. They help them build their homes and they establish their own agricultural business. So over seven or so years with the profit of their business, they can pay back the land, and become owners.
Agros is nonprofit, but it's a business. It has to be a business as it is involved in commerce, buying and selling land, planting, harvesting, selling, marketing, getting around middlemen and going straight to the market itself to get the best prices.
When a family joins an Agros village, they get an opportunity to understand the facets of business, breaking the cycle of poverty. Agros is going after Jesus's call to love the poor - coming alongside to support the individual and the family. Over a period of time they move from extreme poverty, to the capacity to inherit land, a business, and an education for their children.
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