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CNA: 30 Million Mexicans Risk Food Poverty Due to COVID-19

By Jan Hogewoning | Mon, 05/11/2020 - 16:53

The National Agriculture Council (CNA) warned last week that 30 million Mexicans could fall into poverty due to the pandemic. If they lose their source of income, resources to buy basic food products fall away too. The council is currently devising a strategy to counter the impact of the pandemic, which it is calling an 'Agreement for Agrofood Solidarity'. The president of the council, Bosco de la Vega, has called the campaign the biggest in its history. His council has already met with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Victor Villalobos, and Chief of the President’s Office, Alfonso Romo, to see how it could aid in distributing food goods to affected population groups.

In a video meeting in the past week between representatives of a range of associations, including CNA and the Agricultural Markets Consultancy Group (GCMA), the director of GCMA, Juan Carlos Anaya, stressed that Mexico produces 101.7 percent of its food goods. That is to say, he stated, that “Mexico has food security.” The issue, however, is that individuals are unable to access food products because the pandemic has removed their purchasing possibilities. His agency’s proposals, presented in the same meeting, included: 1) direct means to support salaries of the most vulnerable families and 2) return of VAT and income tax payments to businessowners. The acceleration of return of VAT payment to businesses as a method to provide more liquidity was announced on April 20 as a priority by President López Obrador. On May 2, the Coordinating Businesses Council (CCE) announced a series of proposals which it said it would present to the president. These included an accelerated return of VAT payments and deferring short term tax obligations of SMEs for an indicated period.

While the government and these agencies are sparring over what measures could be implemented in the coming weeks, hundreds of thousands of individuals are currently without work because of the COVID-19 contingency. At the same time, food distribution has not commenced. The government has, however, stacked up reserves for its DICONSA and LICONSA stores to make food goods accessible to vulnerable communities at a lower price. The government has stated that it intends to present plans for economic reactivation this Wednesday or Thursday. Meanwhile, some municipalities, such as Monterrey, already announced their own plans for economic reactivation.

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Jan Hogewoning Jan Hogewoning Journalist and Industry Analyst