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For the rural poor, the most valuable asset is productive agricultural land. Land is the foundation of our approach to ending poverty. We help the rural poor gain access to land and launch agriculturally-based businesses, empowering families to acquire productive assets, feed their families and generate ongoing income.

We purchase large tracts of quality land using a sophisticated selection process, and then parcel it out to families based on what kind and amount of land and loan structure will be best for each.  Over the course of 7-10 years, while setting up agricultural businesses and receiving training, families repay their land loan and become full and titled land owners.

We recently completed a capacity development process where we worked with outside experts to look at how Agros works with land and to make recommendations on how to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Two organizations helped us look at land:

  • Global Studio completed an analysis of our existing models and methods for land selection. They developed a new site selection and infrastructure field manual. They also completed an assessment of best practices and standards that will guide our work into the future.
  • Land Alliance did an assessment of land conditions in Honduras and Nicaragua. They developed a revised and broadened framework for how we will look at securing land access for small producers.

As Agros identifies a piece of land, an expedited site analysis is conducted to look at topography, soil, water, and access. Once this has been completed and a viable piece of land identified, secondary verification is completed by experts. Soil is tested to identify its suitability for agriculture. Water is tested to ensure that it is clean for drinking and to make sure there is adequate supply to meet the needs of the community. Estimates are gathered for the infrastructure improvements needed to ensure the land will meet the needs of the community members.

Once the land is secured, master planning begins. This process provides a long term plan for village development and looks at:

  • How to divide the land between individual lots and community space
  • Where buildings will be constructed
  • What infrastructure is needed for agriculture
  • How to sequence the work
  • What maintenance will be required for the infrastructure

We believe that for a project to be successful, it must be guided by and rooted in the community. Our planning process will be done with the community members who will live in the community. By encouraging stakeholders to participate throughout the design and construction process, we work to develop a sense of ownership. This happens through community meetings and design workshops. The community engages in games and exercises that guide the iterative design process with multiple reviews. Deep cultural and community-based research is completed.

More About Land Selection

In June 2014, we held an educational event talking about our land selection process. Geoff Piper, a partner at The Global Studio, talked about his work helping to refine Agros' land selection process.