mexicoMexico is a Spanish-speaking country located in Central America, having a 3,141 km. along the northern border with USA. The Pacific Ocean lies in Mexico’s west while the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico border this country on its southeast and eastern sides respectively. Mexico’s population is over 120 million and the name of its capital is Mexico City. The country, which is rated as the tenth in oil production and the first in silver production in the world, is considered as an upper middle-income, newly industrialized nation. A sharp disparity exists between rich and poor segments of its society. Mexico is a federation of 31 sovereign states. The states are administratively divided into municipalities, governed by elected heads.

Context

Context

Mexico’s climate is cool in the north and tropical in the south, except for higher elevations, which have cooler temperatures. The country has two mountain ranges running north to south. Most of Mexico is arid and mountainous, limiting cropping and grazing options. Only 12 per cent of the country’s area is arable, and only 3 per cent of that is irrigated in the northern and the northeastern regions. Most of the rainfall occurs in the tropical south. Mexico has a serious lack of natural water supply, which keeps its vast areas agriculturally unproductive.

Communal farms, called ejidos cover about half of Mexico’s agricultural land. Main food crops and fruits grown are corn, wheat, beans, sorghum, vegetables, bananas, pineapples, and mangoes. Cash crops are coffee, cotton, oilseeds, and sugarcane; coffee and cotton are exported. The livestock sub-sector (cows, goats, sheep and pigs) accounts for about 30 per cent of Mexico’s agricultural output (i.e. milk, poultry, eggs and beef). The United States is Mexico’s biggest trade partner, accommodating about 78 per cent of Mexico’s agricultural exports of winter fruits  vegetables, fruit juices, fresh flowers and live cattle.

According to Mexico’s agricultural census of 1991, about 40 per cent of all private (non-ejido) farmers held either plots of two hectares or less, or plots of two to five hectares. Together, these two groups held only 2 per cent of the privately owned area. In contrast, 2 per cent of all landholders controlled about 63 per cent of the privately owned land. Holdings of 2,500 plus hectares existed mostly in the north and in Chiapas. Although Mexico still has millions of subsistence farmers, yet there is an increasing trend towards export-oriented agriculture. Small-scale Mexican farmers have been staging huge protests against NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement, covering USA, Canada and Mexico)), which has eliminated tariffs on 21 farm products causing enormous inflow of imports into Mexico which the local farmers have to compete with. The farmers are also pitting against the multi-national US-based company Monsanto, which is aggressively trying to bring thousands of hectares in Mexico under the GM (genetically modified) corn. Several agricultural reform measures are being taken by the government under its agricultural policy “Alliance for the Countryside”. Mexico hosts the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), known globally for its distinguished research on wheat that led to the Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution in many developing countries during the 1960s and 1970s.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq. km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

1,031,660

53.07

25,491,000

13.11

0.21

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

61.72

2010

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

4.06

105

5.90

6.1

2012

2011

2012

2012

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

9600

2012

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

93.06

98.49

98.37

100.11

106.75

2010

2010

2010

2010

2011

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

86.77

38.42

2012

2012

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

120,847,477

61.40

26,119,248

4.62

16.83

52,062,599

7,905,000

15.18

12.30

2012

2011

2012

2012

2011

2011

2010

2011

2011

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (November 2013)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson

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