Salvadoran youth sow the future on their own land

Along with 20 other young men, Francisco Perez created a vegetable greenhouse with drip irrigation system in which they produced and marketed especially tomatoes. Photo: Sonia Hernandez/ADEL Morazan

"I tried to emigrate because I was living in a difficult situation, and the one thing you think about is leaving," recalls Francisco Pérez, a young man in Yoloaiquín, Morazán in El Salvador.  After completing his basic studies, he could not find steady employment and considered migration the only option to raise his family.

His three brothers and sister were already living in the United States, but did not send financial support to their parents. Francisco felt that if he also emigrated, he would find a job that would allow him to buy them a house and support their basic needs.

Highlights

  • Young people develop their skills and work to undertake business plans.
  • More than 268 young people received training in accounting and costs, marketing, pest control, handling of vegetables, business leadership and partnerships.
  • 10 companies of various agricultural products were created.

In Morazán, opportunities for advancement for youth are slim. Indeed, according to UNDP studies, 72 percent of youth consider emigrating to the United States. It is in against this background that the Local Economic Development Agency (ADEL) of Morazán, in coordination with UNDP, set up a project that aims to contribute to transforming the life prospects of the Salvadorans and creating new opportunities for them in their own country.

This project, implemented in El Salvador by UNDP in collaboration with other UN agencies as part of the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI), is funded by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Its aim is to coordinate the migration and development options and circumstances while strengthening and promoting local development, so that emigration does not constitute the only alternative to well-being.

The project promotes networking with strategic organizations, raising awareness on the migration issue, developing business skills and self-employment for youth, and launching productive initiatives.

More than 268 youth from the Morazán Department have received training in areas such as accounting and budgets, marketing, pest control, handling of vegetables, business leadership, and partnerships. As part of the project, they developed their skills and entrepreneurship, and worked on business plans.

As a result of the training, ten companies from different industries were created, including vegetable, plantain, and tilapia production; a poultry farm; black clay pottery production; the manufacturing of steel structures; and the production of typical foods.

One of these companies is the association "La Laguna," which Francisco Pérez belongs to with 20 other young people. In May, they inaugurated a vegetable greenhouse with a drip irrigation system for producing and marketing tomatoes.

"With these efforts, the conditions and opportunities may be created for youth to earn income and have alternatives for developing themselves in their communities," explains Stefano Pettinato, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in El Salvador.

The initiative has had the support of various individuals and institutions. One local Salvadoran granted land in lease, and the City provided machinery for the construction of the greenhouse, food during the young people’s working hours, and staff technical support.

UNDP and ADEL Morazán supported the group with equipment and materials for the greenhouse and provided technical assistance for building capacity in areas such as management and pest control, greenhouse management, and product marketing.

Replication of the initiative is being considered in other regions of the country.

After odd jobs as a labourer and karate teacher, Francisco is now part of an entrepreneurial association. "It has changed my life significantly because it has allowed me to acquire new business and agricultural knowledge and to have a job," he says.

The decision to stay in his country was rooted in the greenhouse, which has planted the seeds of his future. "We have the opportunity to focus and develop as young people in our municipality...Those who have supported us have  given us the conditions to become stronger and pursue our life plans here.”

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