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Small Farmers are Going Global

Guatemala

In the Guatemalan Highlands, Pedro becomes a businessman. Embracing globalization, he grows peas not to eat, but to sell in London.

Complete Video Script

While big agriculture — like sugar and coffee — is well connected with the global economy, a formidable challenge in the fight against poverty is for landless family farmers to also get into the game. High in the hills of Guatemala, an NGO has helped Pedro and Ana buy land, and councils them to maximize their yield and profit.

Pedro used to leave his family for work in the coffee plantations. He still works hard, but now he's independent — the loan's paid off, and he owns the land. Through the NGO worker, Pedro shares his story:

Pedro: I am feeling very happy because now we have land where we can grow our own produce. And now, thanks to God, we were able to buy another piece of land up the hill. The people here are very poor, but right now we're growing and we're living a better life.
Guillermo: The NGO helps them to find the land, and to have the lawyers for all the local papers, so they own the piece of land.
Rick: So, no sugar plantation can come here — he's got this land for his family.
Guillermo: He's...he has his land for his family, yes. And his son will have the land when he is finished. They will stay here instead of going to other places, so they will be with the family all year round.
Rick: So, the landless farmer is a migrant farmer, he leaves his family to cut sugar cane, or work in the coffee plantations.
Guillermo: Yeah.

Ana and Pedro's main crop? At least right now, it's not corn or beans, like you might guess, but snow peas.

Guillermo: Pedro, ¿ustedes comen este, estás arvejas aquí, en el área? ¿En la casa? ¿No? Entonces, ¿por qué la siembra?
Pedro: Solo para venderlo.
Guillermo: OK. …No, they don't eat it here, but they grow it for selling. That's the main business.

It's not what the locals eat, but what international demand and prices make most profitable. And right now, that's peas.

Throughout the valley, farmers like Pedro are bringing their bags of peas to the weigh station to sell to a middleman or exporter. These peas are export quality — carefully picked — and put into crates with all the children helping. And, within a short time, they're off to the market. Much of this shipment will end up sold in England. It's a long way from Pedro's pea patch to the supermarket in London.