The National Meteorological Service (SMN) warns Mexico should brace for an unprecedented cold wave, an imminent weather event that is expected to push temperatures below historical averages. This poses a significant threat to Mexico’s food security and agricultural trade relations with the United States.
In the upcoming weeks, Mexico anticipates a substantial decrease in temperature ranging from 0 to 1.0 degrees Celsius, influenced by 13 cold fronts – five in November and eight in December. These frontal systems, coupled with cold air masses and winter storms, are poised to reshape the climate, bringing exceptionally cold days in the final months of the year. The continued influence of “Cold Front 9” is already reverberating across the nation, with its effects anticipated to persist, according to projections by SMN.
In the crosshairs of this meteorological event are the vital agricultural sectors of Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Durango, and Coahuila. Baja California, recognized for its cultivation of wheat and barley, faces the potential hazard of frost, which poses a risk to vulnerable crops. Sinaloa and Sonora, commonly referred to as the "breadbasket of Mexico" due to its significant role in producing corn and other essential crops, are not exempt from this impending threat either.
This historic cold wave holds significant economic implications for Mexico’s agriculture sector, the third-largest agricultural trading partner of the United States, according to Renature. In 2022, the US Census Bureau reported that agricultural trade between Mexico and the United States reached a total value of nearly US$73.14 billion, a 13% increase from the previous year. Mexico's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) echoed this positivity, noting that the 2022 trade balance between the two countries was the best in five years due to the USMCA treaty, which has opened doors for Mexican exports to grow in the US market During that year, Mexico's agricultural exports to the United States hit a record high of US$44.2 billion, showcasing a substantial 14% increase over the previous year.
However, 2023 has been the driest year for the country, with more than 500,000ha of farmland affected by drought, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER). Juan Cortina, President, National Agricultural Council (CNA), acknowledged that this year marks the driest period for Mexico's agricultural sector since 1957. He expressed his concern, describing the situation as a shock, emphasizing that the primary sector has borne the brunt of this impact—a consequence he attributes to climate change evolving into a permanent reality.
Cortina indicated that it amounted to billions of pesos in losses throughout the country. Furthermore, looking beyond financial losses, he asserted that this issue extends to the very core of the nation’s food security. Connecting the dots between the economic success of the previous year and the current challenges faced by the agricultural sector underscores the fragility of Mexico's food security,reports MBN.
"Conservation agriculture, agroforestry, and the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices can help mitigate the impact of climate change on food production,” suggests Adrian Sanchez Roa, CEO, Lealtad Verde.