Technology to Fight COVID-19By Jan Hogewoning | Thu, 07/23/2020 - 17:21
COVID-19 outbreaks have led to an acceleration in tech implementations in the agri-food chain. At the same time, some companies in the US are taking tech to a new level to fight the virus.
In other news, the Mexican government has reiterated its commitment to Mexican producers amid fears that they may fall victim to punitive measures instigated by different US parties under the USMCA framework.
Interested in more? Here are the week’s biggest headlines:
In an inter-Latin American virtual forum, the head of the national phytosanitary agency SENASICA explained how the agency is employing digital channels to carry out its tasks, including processing documents, carrying out remote inspections and providing technical instructions to farmers. At the same time, he indicated, the agency for Animal Health has designed new work methods for its employees which are expected to continue even after the end of the COVID-19 contingency. Both developments are meant to protect employees from potential exposure.
JBS USA, one of the four major US beef processors, has installed 'ultraviolet germicidal air sanitation equipment' in plant ventilation and air purification systems to kill germs using specific frequencies of light, Reuters reports. Tyson Foods, a major producer of beef, pork and chicken, said it is also doing extensive research and testing on air flow and ultraviolet air treatment systems at several of its plants. These latest measures come amidst a time when US beef producers and processors are recovering from forced plant shutdowns due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
In a virtual forum titled “Challenges and Opportunities for the Agricultural Sector in USMCA: Seasonality and Other Risks”, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Miguel García Winder reiterated that the government is determined to help producers strengthen their market position and avoid protectionist obstacles. It intends to form a united working group that combines players in the sector, lawmakers and federal authorities. He further elaborated on the challenges to the agricultural sector, which could include issues pertaining to labor conditions, the environment, intellectual property, innovation and labeling. His statements come amid rising concerns that USMCA may be used to invoke punitive measures on Mexican growers. See our interview with Juan Carlos Anaya, Director General of Grupo Consultor de Mercados Agrícolas (GCMA), in which he assesses these threats.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) has announced it is investing MX$4 million (US$178,000) in a laboratory to strengthen sanitary control. The laboratory is said to facilitate studies in immunology, cellular biology and molecular biology.
SADER, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Forest Commission signed an agreement to execute programs and projects under criteria of sustainability and conservation of natural resources.
The government is to recognize the importance of the chili pepper in Mexico’s cultural and gastronomic identity through a commemorative National Lottery ticket. Meanwhile, the State Coordinator for Chroniclers in the state of Puebla held a presentation this week in which he warned of the dangers of Chinese growers potentially appropriating rights to the Poblano pepper.