Economic crisis and agricultural surplus in Mexico

“In 2020, Mexico had an agricultural surplus of US$ 12.34 billion”

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER), agronomist Victor Villalobos in exclusive interview to AgriBrasilis.
In 2020 Mexico has faced its biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. Conversely, the agricultural surplus was US$ 12.34 billion, demonstrating the importance of the sector in the economy.

AgriBrasilis – Mexico has faced a great economic crisis, did it affect agriculture and livestock too?
Villalobos – No, it did not. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) has informed that in 2020 the country’s primary activities – agriculture, livestock, fishery and aquaculture- grew 2% compared to the previous year.
Based on preliminary figures, the total agricultural and fishing volume achieved 2.9 million tons last year, an amount 1% higher than 2019.
By subsectors, agricultural activity added 2.6 million tons, or 0.8% to the amount of the previous year. The livestock totaled 23.5 million tons, which meant an increase of 2.6%, and fishing achieved 1.9 million tons, a rise of 3% compared to the previous years.
In 2020, Mexico had an agricultural surplus of US$ 12.34 billion, an annual increase of 39.32%. Exports have grown 5.19% in comparison to 2019, totaling US$ 39.5 billion.

AgriBrasilis – What is the share of agriculture and livestock in the country’s GDP?
Villalobos – According to the available data from the third trimester of 2020, agricultural GDP represents 1.8% of national GDP, while livestock represents 1.1%. Data from the fourth trimester should show that the GDP of primary activities had a rise of 4.8% in the year.

AgriBrasilis – How many people work in agriculture and livestock?
Villalobos – In the fourth trimester of 2020, 6.7 million people worked in the primary sector, representing 12.5% of the total working population (which is 53.3 million people).
This was 3.3% lower than the same trimester of 2019 (6.91 million workers).
The employment in agricultural activities was 5.62 million workers, 3% lower when compared to the same trimester of 2019 (6.79 million workers).
This subsector has the greatest participation in the set of agricultural and fishing activities, with 84.2% in the fourth semester of 2020. In the livestock sector, there were 818 thousand occupied people, 1.7% higher than the same time of last year, and meaning 12.2% of jobs in the country’s primary sector.

AgriBrasilis – How did the pandemic affect this population and how are they adjusting?
Villalobos – Mexico’s government, through the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, defined a strategic plan to mitigate the effects of pandemic in the sector and guarantee the operating continuity of the agriculture, fishing, aquaculture and agro-industry production systems, aiming to ensure the supply of food in the national market and maintain the dynamic of exports. Since the beginning of the pandemic, sanitary protocols have been used in agriculture, fruit, vegetables, and agro industry to protect employees.
Good practices in production and handling of merchandise were strengthen, there is better coordination with the sensitive, perishable and dairy chains, and the flow of trade is evaluated to avoid price rises. Moreover, the ministry has strengthen the cooperation with other federal agencies.
This coupled with compliance with the National Healthy Distance Journey [a period of quarantine in Mexico] and basic hygiene measures, such as washing hands constantly, sneezing or coughing covering mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or with the forearm and greeting applying the healthy distance recommendations that the Mexican government has adopted opportunely.

Main agricultural products produced Value (US$ Mi)
Beef 6,980
Poultry 5,709
Corn (grain) 4,598
Cow milk 3,979
Pork 3,651

Source: SADER (Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development)

AgriBrasilis – What programs for the promotion of agriculture and livestock Mexico’s government is implementing?
Villalobos – This year, the priority programs of the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry will have 34% more resources than 2020, which will enable to increase the number of benefited producers and strengthen the development of Mexican farming and fishing.
Therefore, the ministry counts with US$ 1.39 billion to the following priority programs: Production for welfare, fertilizers for welfare, guarantee prices and Bienpesca [fishing], this will allow to increase the number of beneficiaries from 2.8 to 3 million producers. The major part of these resources will be delivered no later than 31 march.
In addition, this year the Basic Basket will operate uninterruptedly. Disconsa¹ benefits 23 million highly marginalized people through 24.8 thousand stores; while Liconsa² benefits 5.8 million people through an infrastructure of 10.4 thousand dairy factories.
In addition to T-MEC, which other countries are Mexico’s trade partners?
Villalobos – Although the North American region represents 80% of Mexican trade, there are other countries and trade blocks with which trade has grown in the last years, such as member countries of European Union and Japan, followed by our partners of the North Triangle³ and Pacific Alliance.

AgriBrasilis – What makes Mexico the greatest producer of avocados and blue agave (Tequila) in the world?
Villalobos –
1. A good productive organization with care to the environment and protection of pollinators
2. Use of high class and resistant genetic materials according to the productive potential of each region
3. Preventive phytosanitary care programs and compliance with the requirements of national and international standards and protocols
4. Families of farmers with great vocation, tradition, experience and love for growing both avocado and Tequila agave.
5. In the case of tequila, a visionary and avant-garde designation of origin that makes it a “flag and unique” product of Mexico for the world.

Exports Value (US$ Mi) Country
Avocado 2,936,399 US, Japan, Canada
Tomato 2,656,946 US, Canada, Japan
Tequila 2,441,855 US, Germany, Spain
Berries 1,563,632 US, Canada, EU
Beef 880,623 US, Australia, Canada
Seasoning and peppers 429,894 US, Canada, Guatemala

Source: SADER (Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development)


¹Disconsa: chain of over 24,000 stores, throughout Mexico, which provide basic food, clothes, and other essential goods to the rural population.
²Liconsa: a majority state-owned company, industrializes milk and distributes it at a subsidized price
³El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras


Read more


Mexico faces the worst crisis in the history of the last 90 years