Local Non-profit MICOP makes a presentation to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors on the importance of empowering indigenous migrant communities.


By MIguel Hernandez

(Listen to the audio in Spanish and Mixteco, 8 min)

The agricultural industry in Ventura County is a two billion dollar industry, in which 6 out of 10 agricultural workers are from indigenous communities, mostly from the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Puebla. Although these workers are the backbone of the county and the nation, are considered unskilled workers who commonly frequent labor violations. 

But for a county where the median age is getting older, training the majority of its population could be the factor that changes Ventura’s future for the better. Ventura County is home to more than 20,000 indigenous migrant farmworkers.

At the forefront of this battle is Ñuu Nu Chie (Mixtec), which in Spanish means: “the land where we sow.” A program sponsored by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is focused on strengthening and developing new and different agricultural labor in minority communities. Ñuu Nu Chie, is one of the many model programs that the Community Organization of the Mixteco Indigenous Project has. This program is focused on building a training and certification program for workers from indigenous communities with the purpose of developing and strengthening a highly qualified workforce, which is expected to be reflected in better monetary remuneration and opportunities for a decent life.

Last fall, the “Ñuu Nu Chie” program provided training to 30 community members, eight women and 22 men. This training consisted of leadership, supervision, health and safety, and certification in the use of agricultural machineries, such as the correct and safe handling of forklifts, valid for three years.

Programs like Ñuu Nu Chie are the path to a better, equitable future for indigenous migrant communities since, with accessibility to self-improvement tools, they could strengthen Ventura’s economy. Programs like Ñuu Nu Chie are an investment in the rural agricultural community, which has been in high demand and currently has more than 80 community members on the waiting.

The coordinator of this program, Dulce Vargas, comments: .-I invite the community to sign up to be part of programs where opportunities are provided to strengthen their skills. It is important to make ourselves present and occupy spaces of leadership and power where, over time, these spaces have been taken from us. But unfortunately, inequality and racism continue in our lives and even more so for the members of our native peoples who preserve their essence, speaking their mother tongue and carrying with them their beliefs, traditions, and culture.

The agricultural population is vital to Ventura County, and while the Ñuu Nu Chie program is applauded for its efforts to empower these communities, more efforts are needed to achieve an equitable future. The truth is that more programs like Ñuu Nu Chie are needed to break down barriers of racism and lack of accessibility. At the end, members of MICOP hope that this program will be the first domino to fall and begin to generate that systematic change for the migrant indigenous community in Ventura County.

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