The Trust Funds for Rural Development (FIRA) organized the first Technological Innovation Caravan, intending to present different modernization and digitization initiatives to farmers in Mexico.
According to a study performed by the University of Guanajuato, the average use of computer technologies within the Mexican agri-food sector is less than 38%. }Digital education programs are distributed irregularly throughout the country and are mostly focused on the northern states. For example, in Baja California, the average use of technologies in the sector reaches 90% compared to below 20% in Chiapas.
On a national scale, the average computer use stands at 5.57%, again with northern states at the forefront, with 20% in Baja California against 2% in Tlaxcala and Hidalgo. Moreover, the average use of the internet in support of agriculture activities barely reaches 7.78%.
The study links the low usage of computer technologies to the literacy level of workers in the countryside. In Mexico, 57% of farmers have only attended elementary school, and 15% were not provided with any kind of formal education. What is more, according to the National Survey on the Availability and Use of Information Technologies in Households (ENDUTIH), only 56% of rural areas of the country have access to internet connectivity.
Cell phone use represents a major opportunity for agricultural activities. On average, 88% of farmers in Mexico own a phone. No states dip below 70%, and some states like Yucatan nearly reach 100%.
FIRA is a second-tier development bank that offers credit and guarantees, training, technical assistance and technology-transfer support to Mexico’s agriculture, livestock, fishing, forestry and agribusiness sectors. The association’s Technological Innovation Caravan provides a space for industry experts and researchers to present solutions that could help boost digitization in rural areas and boost productivity.
During the event, agricultural entrepreneurs agreed on the need for modernization. The Mexican Union of Agrochemical Manufacturers and Formulators underscored that inflation in food prices and dependence on imports are direct consequences of the lack of technological investment in the sector. In 2021, Mexico spent six times the 2023 budget for fertilizers on corn imports. Experts concluded that to strengthen the agri-food sector, Mexico should promote technological literacy campaigns, provide more internet access and prioritize the use of the cell phones as a valuable tool for agriculture.