Agriculture, Food & Soil

Thematic coordinators: Helena Cotler Ávalos, Héctor Robles Berlanga, Elena Lazos Chávez and Jorge Etchevers Barra

The withdrawal of the State from agricultural production and stockpiling, regulation of prices and the structure of credits and subsidies, has led to a polarization between small and large agricultural producers, pauperizing small farmers and opening the way for transnational agro-food corporations. This has negatively impacted the Mexican agri-food system, its nutritional level, its food security, and caused serious damage to health.

Among the public policies on rural development, integrated into the Special Concurrent Program for Rural Development (PEC) it highlights, on the one hand, the reduction of the budget allocated to the field, and on the other, the unequal nature of the support. For large producers, located in the states of Sinaloa, Jalisco, Chihuahua, Sonora, Michoacán and Tamaulipas, production subsidies and financing are concentrated, giving them better conditions to produce and compete nationally and internationally. While the majority of small producers are allocated smaller amounts of the productive budget and more welfare subsidies, and the supports they receive are smaller, which does not allow improving productivity in these regions. These inconsistencies are associated with the failure of the economic model towards the most vulnerable population.

This situation has triggered an intense impoverishment of the small farmers, who make up the majority of the owners in the country, who lost their capacity to feed themselves from their own production. This little one Agenda environmental agriculture, recognized as inseparable from food security, despite its precarious conditions to produce and the lack of governmental economic support, contributes 39% of national agricultural production, playing a fundamental role in the conservation of the agrodiversity and as an important source of job creation. However, the fractionation of properties that explains the increase in production units of less than 5 ha constitutes one of the structural problems of the Mexican countryside. Recognizing the problem of spraying the land entails looking for ways to organize the producers that rely on the bonds of solidarity that exist in the localities.

With trade liberalization, initiated after the entry of Mexico In GATT (1986), food production ceased to be part of the national development strategy. On the one hand, food security was achieved through imports and, on the other hand, agriculture was converted into a foreign exchange-generating activity, which provided support to large companies through policies commercial, labor and deregulation. Since then, the Mexican agri-food system has become an agroindustrial complex composed of seed companies, agrobiotechnology, agrochemicals, agroindustrial and foodstuffs that are in the hands of few transnational companies. Today, in Mexico, around 10 companies control the food industry.

Today almost one in five inhabitants lacks the resources to satisfy their minimal nutritional needs and extreme food poverty has increased, and worsened in rural areas and among the indigenous population. This panorama shows that recent agricultural policies, or programs such as the National Crusade against Hunger, have not had an impact on the reduction of food shortages.

The sociocultural transformation of food causes havoc to the health of the population. By modifying their consumption patterns with foods rich in cholesterol, saturated fats, sugars and sodium, the problems of overweight and obesity, on the one hand, and child malnutrition on the other, constitute serious public health problems and have mortgaged the lives of future generations.

Subsequent decades of implementation of the model of the Green Revolution and the abandonment of the countryside by the State, the intense deterioration of the soil, sustenance of agriculture, threatens the country's food sovereignty. Support for unsustainable agricultural systems cause more than half of the country's soils to be degraded, causing the reduction of desertification yields and processes, often irreversible, but also impacted at the regional level, such as the loss of biodiversity, the contamination of bodies of water, and the emission of greenhouse gases. The consequences of soil degradation have a direct impact on well-being of the population, being able to increase levels of poverty and promote migration processes.

The government response to this problem has been the creation of rigid and centralized programs with little capacity to adapt to different biophysical, social and institutional conditions that propitiate a strengthening of local capacities.

By limiting access to the market, credit, advice, information or risk management tools, agricultural policy goes against the possibility of conserving land as a means to recover sovereignty and security. food of the country.

In contrast to agricultural policy, alternative strategies are being developed throughout the country in the form of agroforestry and sustainable livestock systems according to local conditions. These experiences should shape the seeds for the construction of a flexible and adaptive soil conservation policy, which has the support of state research bodies, markets and economic support.
The recovery of food security requires a comprehensive program of productive support to small-scale agriculture that reorients agricultural and rural development policies for a readjustment of incentives and elimination of obstacles to the transformation of agricultural and livestock systems towards more sustainable models that, together with a national agro-food policy, favors diversified production and that conserves agrobiodiversity and soils.

The design and implementation of agricultural public policies must recognize the changes in the agrarian structure of the country in recent decades, such as smallholding and the aging of the population, forging a program of support to the local productive organization with technical assistance and training.

The Special Concurrent Program (PEC) must be built on the basis of public goods, as a means to reduce poverty in the rural population as well as to reduce regional disparities.
Recovering the Mexican agri-food system must be a central axis of a national development strategy. Achieving the quality of food will require the regulation of the use of toxic agrochemicals, the prohibition of transgenic crops and the promotion of local products.