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Mexico’s domestic grain production has fallen throughout the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), as the production of widely consumed products like corn, sorghum and wheat has dropped off, while Mexico has increased its international grain imports in turn in an effort to keep up with consumer demand.

According to the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader), Mexico’s yellow corn production fell by 15.5 percent from 3.3 million tons to 2.8 million between 2019 to 2021, compared to a 10 percent drop in the previous three-year period. Durum wheat, sorghum wheat and white corn production likewise dropped during this time period, reducing by 24 percent, 3.5 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. 

Meanwhile, Mexico’s beans and polished rice production has gone up from 2019 to 2021.

To accommodate its lower grain harvests, Mexico increased its grain imports from 15.5 million tons at the start of the AMLO administration to 15.8 million tons in the present day.

This need to import grain products stands in opposition to Mexico’s ​​2019-2024 National Development Plan, which was created with the intention of establishing Mexico’s full autonomy and self-sufficiency in corn and bean production in 2021.

A multitude of factors could have contributed to lowered harvests and the delay in following through on the National Development Plan, including Mexico’s enduring drought that’s continually affected its national farmers, and the economic and health hardships brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.

Director of the Agricultural Markets Consulting Group (GCMA) Juan Carlos Anaya pointed out that Mexico’s self-sufficient grain and oilseed production has dropped since the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) went into effect in 2020, reducing from 80 percent on the self-sufficiency index at the time of signing to 52 percent present-day, while imports increased from 20 percent to 48 percent. 

“That has made Mexico the second-largest importer of corn, after China,” said Anaya, while mentioning that Mexico’s fruit and vegetable sector has remained completely self-sufficient. 

“We are the United States’ largest client and its main buyer of wheat,” Anaya continued. “With rice, Mexico produces 20 percent and imports 80 percent. In beans, we are almost self-sufficient.”

Anaya went on to say that the sitting government’s agricultural policies have affected Mexico’s overall grain production, focusing on fertilizer deliveries and direct support rather than focusing on increasing grain output, financing and modernizing the agricultural sector.

“Fertilizers are an element that helps crop growth, but that doesn’t make it more productive,” said Anaya. “There has to be a technological package, along with good seed, good fertilization and insecticides, with soil leveling so that the producers increase their productivity.”

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