National Council of Agriculture Pushes Food DonationBy Jan Hogewoning | Wed, 05/27/2020 - 17:39
On Monday, the National Council of Agriculture (CNA) released a press statement in which it reported on its progress regarding food donations to families in poverty around the country during the health crisis. In the statement it mentioned that the initiative, dubbed Alimentos para México (Foods for Mexico), has already reached 3.6 million Mexicans and the target is to reach 20 million in the coming months. In the press statement, the President of CNA Bosco de la Vega is quoted stating that “small, medium and large sized food companies, allied with the association, have been coming together to bring high quality foods to Mexicans.” CNA is a civil association which falls under the Council of Coordinated Entrepreneurs (CCE). Through the companies and organizations associated to CNA, it is said to represent 80 percent of all foodstuffs produced in Mexico.
In a video conference hosted by El Financiero and Bloomberg yesterday, Bosco de La Vega pointed to an alarming figure published by CONEVAL, which is that 14 percent of Mexicans are currently living in food poverty, which means that they lack money to buy sufficient food for their household. De la Vega continued by saying: “Mexican farmers are struggling. We have problems including devaluation, lack of financing, falling prices and markets, insecurity and above all the problem of health.” He warned that 20 percent of the agricultural workforce could risk losing their jobs if actions are not taken to aid the sector. The estimated number of total workers in the sector is 14 million, which means 2.8 million could end up without an income, writes El Economista.
In the same call, the president of CNA pointed out some of the steps the council had already taken beyond delivering food. “First, we have implemented health measures for prevention at work centers. There has been not one center with problems.” The council has also taken action with government entities to assure food storage. Lastly, he mentioned: “We are working on creating a basis for recuperation through a strong alliance with the Mexican Army, the National Council for Agricultural Coordination (CONACA), food banks and all members of our council.” He specifically pointed out the work of food banks, which today reaches 1.8 million of beneficiaries through 55 banks in 27 states. This institution had now, together with the National Chamber of Cargo Transport (CANACAR), the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF) and the Mexican army, provided channels to distribute food goods donated by CNA.
In another video press conference on Monday, as reported by El Economista, Bosco de la Vega stated that one of the primary impacts of the COVID-19 virus had been that hotels and restaurants were forced to shut down and were no longer receiving food goods. This includes hotels abroad. Supply to supermarkets, he stated, has continued, but oversupply has meant lower prices and less demand. El Economista reports that according to INEGI, agricultural exports dropped by 8.2 percent in April compared to last year, but with a 6.4 percent increase between January and April as a whole compared to 2019. De la Vega warned that growth could stagnate and reach 0 percent this year with the ongoing situation. It is significant that the president also pointed to the growing insecurity problem in Mexico as an important part of the challenge farmers are currently facing. He stated that 3,100 individuals in this sector die every year because of insecurity. Many farmers are forced to pay extortion fees to criminal groups to grow and use land, besides facing robberies.