Issue 10, August 2009
|Prospects for the Future|
Despite the success of Oportunidades in getting resources into the hands of the rural poor, there is still a shortage of basic services in rural areas. More schools and hospitals are badly needed, as are water, sanitation, and telecommunications.
Broader reforms are also needed, including crop insurance, access to credit and agricultural technology, and all of the benefits of private land ownership. Many experts believe that farmers should be able to obtain mortgages, sell their land, and enter into partnerships with each other. NGOs are beginning to help organize rural communities to improve their leverage with the government.
More trade policy reforms in the context of NAFTA would also help to diminish the advantage enjoyed by US-subsidized agriculture and improve the profitability of Mexico’s farms. If agriculture could be made more lucrative by maximizing the potential of labor and land, fewer farmers would need to turn to supplemental activities such as seasonal migration to the US, day labor, and drug trafficking to feed their families.