Reuters – Mexican corn production is likely to total no more than 24 million tonnes this year, significantly less than the government’s forecast, the head of one of the country’s largest corn farmer associations said in an interview.
Juan Pablo Rojas told Reuters that the official estimate of nearly 27 million tonnes by the Agriculture Ministry’s SIAP statistical agency is unreliable due to budget cuts that have hit field personnel.
“The SIAP doesn’t have a way of knowing how much is being produced or how much will be produced because it doesn’t have the technical personnel that can verify the information,” said Rojas, president of the CNPAMM federation, which represents more than 200,000 farmers across the country.
Rojas also criticized the government’s flagship direct cash payment program for over two million small-hold mostly grains farmers as unlikely to grow output, despite official pronouncements that it will.
The program, with a budget of 13.5 billion pesos (C$812 million), provides annual payments of as much as 8,000 pesos, or about C$481 at the current exchange rate.
“You’re not making the land more productive with 8,000 pesos per year,” said Rojas, adding that the payments are better understood as social spending aimed at boosting political support for the government since they can be used for any expense.
The government’s push to ban the widely used herbicide glyphosate is also likely to increase farmers’ costs, he added.
The Agriculture Ministry declined to comment.
Last year, domestic corn production totalled 27.5 million tonnes, according to SIAP data, up about one per cent from 2019, the first full year of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s term.
Lopez Obrador has pledged to make Mexico self-sufficient by boosting yields, gradually weaning the country off of some 16 million tonnes of imported corn used mostly to feed livestock and other industrial uses.
A late-February SIAP estimate forecasts 2021 corn production at 26.9 million tonnes, or down about two per cent from 2020 levels.
Nonetheless, Lopez Obrador told reporters earlier in March that corn output is on the rise.
“The production of corn is growing because corn farmers are being supported,” he said.