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Herbicide Ban, Drought, Trade Concerns to Affect Corn Production

By María Fernanda Barría | Tue, 03/30/2021 - 08:06

Several analysts warn that the herbicide ban, droughts and trade concerns could stop Mexico from reaching its 27 million tons target in corn production during 2021. This target was set by the government as previously reported by MBN. Juan Pablo Rojas, president of the National Corn Farmer Federation (CNPAMM), which represents more than 200,000 farmers across the country, stated that the Ministry of Agriculture (Sader) has suffered from budget restraints that have affected farmers and crops. Because of this, Rojas estimates that Sader’s projection that the country would produce nearly 27 million tons of corn is not trustworthy, according to Reuters. "The administration doesn't have a way of knowing how much is being produced or how much will be produced because it doesn't have the technical employees that can verify the information," said Rojas.

In addition, the administration decided on Dec. 31, 2020, to implement a decree to gradually replace the use, acquisition, distribution, promotion and import of glyphosate, as previously reported by an MBN article. This policy change comes as part of a decree that aims to replace some 16 million tons of yellow corn imported from the US and nearly all genetically modified products (GMO) with national products by 2024. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador states that the policy aims to help the country achieve self-sufficiency and food sovereignty by establishing a sustainable and culturally adequate agricultural production. López Obrador’s decree suggests that herbicides should be substituted "by sustainable and culturally appropriate alternatives that allow production and are safe for human health and the country's biocultural diversity."

Even though advocates such as Campaign Without Corn, No Country and Greenpeace insist that high-risk pesticides in Mexico continue to be a persistent problem, the political tension among trade agreements persists. Biosafety specialists have until January 31, 2024, to replace glyphosate and examine the use of GMO corn grain in Mexicans' diet.

Tom Vilsack the Secretary of Agriculture of the US told Reuters that the Mexican plan to ban imports of GMO corn affects both nations' interests as Mexican animal feed companies use about 11.1 million tons of imported corn from the US. Vilsack assured that limiting the ban on food products would help US farmers adapt, as they have long supported the country as one of the leading export markets. "It is not going to have a big impact as if it were all of one once, "said the US federal official to Reuters. Víctor Villalobos, Secretary of Agriculture of Mexico, informed that the ban would apply to the grains used for human food products.

Moreover, stored water for irrigation in 210 dams across the country is 48.1 percent lower than last year, according to El Sol de México. "The low accessibility of water will result in a decrease in agricultural production and will drive higher volumes of imports of basic grains this year," said Hernández Barajas, President of the Independent Farmers Center (CCI). The national drought intensified by the climate crisis and has put the production of grains and vegetables for the spring-summer 2021 cycle at risk and, with it, the country's food security.


The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Reuters, Sader, MBN, El Sol de México
María Fernanda Barría María Fernanda Barría Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst