An ongoing agricultural crisis was the subject of heated discussion in the Mexican Congress this week. In testimony before legislators, Mexican Agriculture Secretary Francisco Mayorga said his country did not have the resources, financing and infrastructure to recover food sovereignty in the short-term.
A five billion-dollar federal agricultural budget for 2011 is not enough to fully implement programs designed to strike at “marginality, poverty and backwardness,” Mayorga told members of the Chamber of Deputies.
Representatives of the opposition PRI, Convergencia, New Alliance, Green, Labor and PRD political parties pressed Mayorga on a number of issues, including the issue of national security versus food imports, the red-tape involved in government rural assistance programs and the overall abandonment of the countryside.
Federico Ovalle of the center-left PRD party declared that Mexico was in a deep crisis, with six million agricultural jobs lost since the beginning of the North American Free Trade Agreement. According to Ovalle, 42 percent of the nation’s food supply is now imported.
New Alliance’s Maria del Pilar Torre Canales blamed import dependency in addition to current federal policies for creating conditions that favor the cultivation of illegal drugs. The Congresswoman contended that 30 percent of the country’s crops have been turned into plantings of marijuana and opium poppies.
The large-scale destruction of cropland as a result of heavy rains in southern Mexico in recent weeks also came up as a matter of urgency requiring government attention. The former ruling PRI party urged the Calderon administration to consider reprogramming approximately $50 million from the 2011 national budget to help recover about 160,000 acres damaged by flooding in Veracruz and other southern states.
Source: El Universal/Notimex, October 5, 2010.