During a recent conversation at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, H.E Víctor Manuel Villalobos Arámbula, Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development for Mexico, shared insight into the current landscape of agriculture in Mexico. The session was organized by Food Tank in partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Producers Trust, and the Forum for Farmers and Food Security (3FS) at the Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas Pavilion.
Villalobos highlighted that the climate crisis has significantly affected agricultural production in Mexico for decades, reaching an alarming peak in recent years. In September, temperatures soared to a record high, marking the hottest September since 1941 with a notable three-degree increase above the average, according to Villalobos.
“The impact of these high temperatures, the lack of rain, and also the problems associated with some pests and disease really impacts this particular year’s production estimate,” Villalobos says.
While official production statistics are forthcoming, Villalobos shares that early estimates indicate that cereals, corn, and bean yields were reduced between 28 and 30 percent, which will also lead to higher prices.
Villalobos believes that extension services, communication tools, proper soil management, and access to technology are critical first steps toward overcoming these barriers and increasing productivity.
Mexico is collaborating with the United States Department of Agriculture and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to increase the access to technologies between Mexico and the United States.
“We need to incorporate the most advanced tools in order to make agriculture more efficient,” Villalobos says. “We understand that we have to increase productivity without expanding the frontier of agricultural land.”
Villalobos believes that this partnership and interdependency will not only increase food production and security in Mexico and the United States, but also across the globe.
“I think North America will be capable enough to provide the food our societies require or demand,” says Villalobos. “But we also have to recognize that we need to play a more important role as a provider of food worldwide.”
Villalobos reports that Mexico is the 7th largest exporter of agricultural products in the world, exporting to 191 different countries.
“The advantage is the diversity,” says Villalobos. “We can produce many different products all year round because of our geographical position.”
As Villalobos looks towards the future of Mexican agriculture, he emphasizes the importance of supporting small and medium-scale farmers. Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has already made significant strides in this direction through initiatives like its Fertilizer Program. This program aims to enhance the availability of fertilizers to improve the agricultural productivity of small-scale farmers in economically marginalized regions.
Watch the full conversation below.
Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.