Francisco Javier ARROYO Y GALV?N DUQUE
Fellow Since 1996
Programa de Producción Urbana de Alimentos del Cent (CEDICAR)
This profile was prepared when Francisco Javier Arroyo y Galván Duque was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Paco is implementing a comprehensive urban food production plan in marginal barrios of Mexico City which rapidly improves familiar nutrition while fortifying the communities' capacity to collectively improve their economic and social well-being. After a long history of developing and innovating agricultural practices, especially in fertilizers and composts, Paco now has the ability to bring together many distinct elements into an integrated process. He has designed a simple machine that cuts and turns tires inside out. These tires are used as pots for food production. By turning the tire inside-out he has managed to increase the volume by 150% and achieve 40% more sun exposure. Two complementary components of using tires for urban food production is the creative "re-use" of some of the millions of tires that surround Mexico City, and the promotion of a "recycling culture." Besides recycling tires and used pots, the urban food production system proposes debris and food garbage composting and saving water by using human urine as a fertilizer. This system includes an environmental education component based on proximity, respect and acknowledgment of natural cycles. This system also improves nutritional health levels of families because the food is grown without any chemicals: it is 100% organic. The project includes a creative financial scheme based on vermiculture through which Paco can effectively introduce his urban agriculture model to poor communities in a way that is consistent with his anti-dependency development methodology. With the financial resources obtained by marketing vermi-compost, Paco finances a nursery of young plants and transportation of pots, soil and plants to the neighborhoods. The system is spread among pre-existing social and neighborhood organizations through the links Paco establishes. By doing so, he strengthens the participating groups' internal organization, the participation of women and children and associates his project with other current practices developed among the organizations. Paco is committed to investing in training to the extent that families and communities can continue to manage and improve their food production units without depending on his or others' technical expertise.