STORY INLINE POST
It's a pleasure to join Mexico Business Review as a contributor alongside such interesting people, with whom I hope to share and enrich your knowledge about the agriculture sector and, about the interesting work that we do within the berries industry, which is to offer not only delicious fruits grown to the highest quality standards, but also to show Mexico as a land full of opportunities for people and businesses.
The year 2020 was characterized by an unprecedented event, a global health emergency caused by COVID-19 that had a significant impact on all aspects of our lives and, naturally, on the different economic sectors within the country, aspects of which I will discuss in more depth throughout this reflection.
In the case of the agri-food sector, we faced multiple challenges: on the one hand, maintaining our activities to avoid disrupting the food supply chain, understanding our responsibility as an essential activity while reaffirming our commitment to ensure healthy and nutritious food, especially during a time when a balanced diet that helps to protect the immune system from external threats became even more relevant. On the other hand, we had to reinforce and redouble our efforts to prioritize the health, integrity and well-being of all those people who carry out activities along the supply chain; our commitment to take care of those who help us to bring the healthiest foods to our tables is the backbone of our operations.
Despite this, the agri-food industry demonstrated not only its ability to face great challenges, but the possibility of emerging even stronger from this crisis. In this sense, and as evidenced by data from the Agri-food and Fisheries Information System (SIAP), last year, the agriculture sector produced 262.5 million tons of food (91.2 percent of the total) with a value of MX$675.25 billion (US$32 billion) (56.3 percent). Furthermore, due to the convergence of natural resources, geographical disposition and a great diversity of agricultural workers, Mexico is ranked 11th in the world for produce.
Growing Stronger by Growing Together
Mexicans have always been known for being able to face the most adverse situations, probably in part because of our great creative capacity and our natural willingness to work together for the benefit of our families. Therefore, it is not surprising to me that Mexican producers demonstrated vigorous strength that resulted in the agri-food sector being the only industry to register a positive performance in 2020, growing 2.7 percent in a year in which the general economy contracted by 9.8 percent. Although the number may seem small, it is significant when considering the contractions observed within industry (-12.2 percent) and services (-8.6 percent).
Mexico is an ag-export powerhouse, there is no doubt about it. And it is not just because we have a food surplus of US$1 billion, or an extensive network of 13 free trade agreements with 52 nations that allow us to reach 1.352 billion people around the world. No, our strength is in the people, in the dedication they put into their work to be able to bring the best products to millions of tables, always with the certainty that each product comes with a quality guarantee.
The berry industry is a clear example of this. Thanks to the dedication of farm workers and excellence in their work, we have been able to turn berries into the third-most exported agri-food product in the country, only after beer and avocado. This has allowed Mexico to position itself as the No. 3 country for most exports of this product, with a market participation of 11.8 percent, generating a value of US$2.62 billion, which represents a huge opportunity to do our part and share development schemes with and for the community, to which we owe our industry.
Promoting Opportunities for All
The agriculture sector has always offered development opportunities and is expected to continue doing so in the years to come. Undoubtedly, to improve the well-being of the industry and achieve shared economic growth, the central focus must be agricultural workers and their families, who are often forgotten. Agribusiness has a promising future and generates around 7 million jobs in Mexico. We must keep walking steadily toward the construction of a prosperous countryside that ensures the best conditions for all those workers who have helped to position Mexico in the place it has earned; to put them at the center of the strategy as they are the core of our daily activities.
I have no doubt, dear reader, that we need to look toward our communities, ensure their well-being, since their strengthening contributes to shared development. For this, it is essential that we keep building bridges that contribute to the synergy between the private sector, authorities at the three levels of government, academia, and civil society, in such a way that through close, responsible, committed, and transparent collaboration networks, we can continue contributing to make agricultural employment a viable and real alternative for our people.