Sowing life through tree planting
Mexico promised the US that it would take steps to reduce the flow of migrants from Central America arriving at the southern border of the US. One way Mexico proposes to do that is by funding a program in the Northern Triangle countries to reforest rural areas and generate employment.
The Associated Press described the recent inauguration of the project in El Salvador:
Mexico is bringing to El Salvador a tree-planting program that aims to support rural residents and ease economic pressures driving thousands of people to leave for the United States.
The program known as “Sowing Life” offers farmers $250 a month to plant fruit or timber trees, and whatever they harvest belongs to them.Mexico is donating $31 million to fund the plan in El Salvador, and authorities say it should create 20,000 jobs. The program is a smaller version of a much larger reforestation plan the Mexican government has begun implementing in southern Mexico. In addition to El Salvador, Mexico also plans to provide assistance to Honduras and Guatemala.
In El Salvador, Sowing Life (Sembrando Vida) has the goal of planting of 50 thousand hectares (123,500 acres) with trees. With a target of 20,000 jobs, that's $1500 per job (or six months at $250 per month), or one job for every 2.5 hectares planted. Few actual details about how the program is supposed to work have been released, however.
Rural areas of El Salvador experience higher levels of poverty, and farmers have struggled against drought, climate change, low coffee prices and gangs. A program which may point farmers towards the possibility of a sustainable livelihood could have some impact of reducing economically-driven migration.
A representative of the Center for Justice and International Law, however, classified the program as "superficial" and unlikely to affect the structural reasons which cause migration.
Nayib Bukele and Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador
at a symbolic tree planting in June