Organized producers in Sinaloa have been shutting gasoline outlets at various Pemex facilities for several days to press for better prices for their corn and wheat crops.
A fuel shortage seems imminent which could affect all transportation and with it, indeed, all activity in those areas.
These protests have been announced for months to pressure the government to control the prices of wheat, maize and jowar. Groups of producers from Baja California, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora and Tamaulipas have joined. Producers point out that industrialists do not give them fair prices; They now want to pay the Chicago stock price which is low, but refused to pay it when it was high.
They want the same guaranteed price offered for 1.8 million tonnes of corn and wheat from Sinaloa to apply to a total of 5 million tonnes produced this year.
The Governor of Sinaloa asked the producers to remove the blockades and attend a scheduled hearing with the Secretary of the Interior tomorrow, Monday. The producers are suspicious.
They point out that for months they have been denied any kind of dialogue and that the government is letting time pass because they already have to thresh. Since they do not have their own storage facilities at the time of harvest, they will be forced to sell at the price offered by the brewers.
It might be thought that a meeting with the Secretary of the Interior, without the presence of the Finance Secretary, the person who manages the budget, does not indicate a favorable resolution. This is not just a regional issue, what is happening in Sinaloa is just the tip of the iceberg.
These producers have the ability to organize and mobilize, and yet they cannot keep their word. The tip of the iceberg, the hidden part of the problem, is best represented in the fact that the country is set to become a major importer of corn at over 17 million tonnes in 2022.
This is a problem for the entire rural environment and is linked to a national development strategy that has neglected rural areas for decades.
Until a few years ago, the commercial producers of the north, which had the largest public investment in infrastructure and the greatest technological advances, were privileged. Later, in this administration, they joined the rest of the abandoned people.
Support for marketing and funding recently ceased. Over the years, pressure cookers that are commonplace in rural areas migrated to cities, and especially in the United States, in the form of a drain valve.
This has given rise to forms of formal and informal employment that do not pay enough to feed the family, says Konval; For the emigration of millions of people outside the country, the destruction of families and social cohesion in communities and age groups.
An unpreventable disaster, but now that the doors to emigration are closed and migrants are pouring in from Central America and even farther afield, it is urgent to solve. Only in rural areas would such a transformation be possible that allows millions of citizens to be sustained and even productively involved at relatively low cost.
Creating globally competitive industrial urban jobs like Elon Musk’s company has a huge cost. The only viable option is to mobilize the rural population to fend for themselves with government support.
What is required is that rural production be profitable, which requires a combination of the following strategies, all or some of them. Rural producers need a competitive currency, that is, a cheap one.
The irresponsible shortage of dollars has hit the producers hard. Not that it costs grain importers $17.80 a dollar, while it costs a little over 20 pesos. The technological gap between Mexican and globalized agriculture is widening rather than narrowing.
This gap must be covered with subsidies for domestic production, at high cost to the government. On the other hand, a tariff can be established on imports that protects national production at the same time as it provides income to the government; Which can be used to promote technological progress in the field. There is a dispute about this.
Sinaloa Governor Ruben Rocha said that on May 1, President López Obrador had directed the imposition of tariffs on white corn imports from countries with which we have no trade agreements, in order to avoid affecting producers.
This was in response to the fact that Economy Secretary Raquel Buenostro said on her Twitter account that no tariffs would be imposed on corn and that the government was promoting a zero-tariff policy to support the populist economy.
Such disputes are fundamental in the definition of economic strategy. Or producers and the rural economy are supported by long hours of work that create well-being from production. Or by opening borders as much as possible and making the dollar cheaper so that consumers benefit, even as the country’s productive base is eroded. Are radical globalization and the sacrifice of the countryside the answer? Maybe in the short term, but not in the long term.
Maybe we can find some other way. Support the poor with existing or even greater social transfers that already benefit most households, but manage these benefits in such a way that instead of being translated into large commercial corporations buying imports, they become national, regional and purchase. Even local products.
Such a strategy would quickly increase domestic production by small and medium-sized producers, create jobs, and root people in rural areas and city neighborhoods.
The one-sidedness of import consumption can be fatal in the medium and long term; This happened to us before.
Strongly supporting social welfare and, at the same time, consumption of national products would be a way to promote development from below. We need the social costs, which add up to the extent that there are no jobs, shortages and protests, do not hinder the development of globalized regions.
Our social peace, and I include the fight against violence, requires rural development on a solid basis of increasing internal production; Mere support for imported consumption is not what becomes self-destructive.