A new irrigation system, provided by a group called CEDICAM, is providing seeds and equipment to farmers with the belief that successful harvests depend on more than just being able to use what little rainfall there is.
CEDICAM, or the Center for the Integral Development of the Campesinos of the Mixteca Alta, organises workshops in remote villages to teach local farmers how the combination of pre-colonial farming practices, such as terracing and ditch building, with a modern, scientific understanding of the environment can lead to huge increases in productivity.
As a result, the land is fertile. There is no need for villages to disappear, and for the soil to be left unattended, as their populations seek work elsewhere.
Yet much of rural Mexico has not been so lucky.
Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi reports from Oaxaca in Mexico.