FIRA Gears Up to Apply Innovative Strategy in Barley Production
The Trust Fund for Rural Development (FIRA) will develop an innovation management strategy to offset barley production problems like unstable yields and low-quality grain.
Mexico ranks as the 33rd largest barley producer in the world with 34,531 people directly involved in the activity. The main producing regions of the country are the bajio, which includes the states of Guanajuato, Queretaro and Michoacan; the Central Mexican Plateau, comprising Hidalgo, Puebla, Tlaxcala and the State of Mexico; and the north, covering Durango and Zacatecas. Overall, the state of Hidalgo covers the largest area with 6.2ha.
Ninety-nine percent of barley production in the plateau is destined for the brewing industry and is rainfed, which increases the risk that adverse weather effects such as droughts, frosts and hail pose. Moreover, since the soil lacks organic matter, crops tend to present nutrient deficiencies. These conditions may lead to unstable yields and low-quality product. Consequently, grain often has to be sold as fodder to lower prices.
As a response, FIRA Tulancingo will develop an innovation management strategy for barley production in this region. FIRA bases its strategy on a field study from 2022, in which 23 innovations were tested in the primary sector. Those that obtained the best evaluations were the incorporation of organic matter in the soil, soil analysis at the beginning of the cycle to determine the appropriate fertilization dose and the use of drones to apply agrochemicals. According to FIRA, these options maximize crop profitability and minimize costs compared to other innovations.
Additionally, the trust suggests keeping a written record of all activities for an adequate overview of costs, revenues, dates and activities to create a valuable source of information for decision-makers. The plan will integrate the work of producers, the agro-industry and other stakeholders involved, aiming to improve sustainability and technology use in the sector through a series of workshops and demonstration days.
Furthermore, the study recommends that the information should be transferred between peers, from producer to producer, to spread the information faster. Likewise, interaction with other actors belonging to the brewing industry, government and other related companies is advised.
In 2022, FIRA provided economic support equivalent to MX$367 million (US$19.6 million) to barley producers around the plateau.