Guatemala is a country with a very high percentage of subsistence farmers. AIM is based in a rural community and thus is surrounded by people who grow crops, predominately corn, to eat and survive. While AIM's prime focus at its formation was and remains medicine, being in an agricultural community has led to projects and focuses that target those engaged in that lifestyle. Many health issues in Guatemala can be traced back to malnutrition. AIM's goal in its Agricultural division is to introduce and encourage agricultural and nutritional practices that are beneficial to the people of the area. This can take many forms, but the heart of AIM's Agriculture is simple: How can we address the medical issues seen in clinics through prevention and the introduction of healthier practices in the sphere of farming?
AIM's practical goals are very simple as well. We want to be at the cutting edge of agriculture in the area with regards to practices and methods. This opens doors to build relationships through giving advice when people ask and reaching out to the community on a personal level.
The Goat Project
One of AIM's newer agricultural projects is the Goat Project, where a family partners with AIM to take care of a flock of goats. The arrangement is such that the shepherds of the flock may keep every other kid when the goats give birth. This arrangement provides nutrition as well as valuable resources in the form of goats for different families without access to necessary food or access. AIM currently partners with several families and is hoping to continue expanding the project to include others.
AIM has explored other agricultural practices and methods in the context of the area, including alternative crops, field treatments, and other practices that most farmers in the area are unaware of.
The farming culture around Canillá is such that there is a very strong resistance to change. In order to truly introduce the practice into the area, AIM often has to practice the method for some time before farmers begin asking questions and seeking advice regarding the practice. As more relationships are created, trust is built and the process becomes more fruitful.