Mexico, with the potential to lower “addiction” to imported yellow corn

With improved -non-transgenic- seed, technical support and marketing certainty, the Mexican countryside can dramatically increase its production of yellow corn and reduce its dependence on imported grain, says Jorge Arturo de Jesús Monreal, senior manager of Corn Supply and Logistics in Ingredion Mexico.

The last agricultural cycle (October 2020-September 2021), the Mexican demand for yellow corn amounted to 19 million 877,000 tons, however, the national production was only two million 804,000 tons, according to preliminary data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader).

On the other hand, imports climbed to a historical maximum of 15 million 811,000 tons. From 2013 to date, demand grew 150%, while national production advanced 61% and imports tripled by expanding 211 percent, according to Sader figures.

Hand in hand with the biotech company Corteva, Ingredion launched Horizonte Amarillo this year, an initiative to invite Mexican farmers to grow yellow corn, offering them improved seed, technical support and the purchase of the production achieved at preferential prices.

The program is already operating in the state of Jalisco – the first producer of yellow corn in Mexico – and will begin to be implemented in Sinaloa at the end of this month or the beginning of July, Jorge Monreal confirmed in an interview.

The first year we have as a pilot project to reach at least a production of 150,000 tons as part of the initiative. However, Mexico is a country that is totally deficient in yellow corn. Really what is sought in the long term is to cover that deficit, ”he said.

Although there is no direct coordination with the government on this issue yet, the Ingredion and Corteva initiative coincides with the federal government’s goal of achieving self-sufficiency in the country in basic grains.

In Sader’s vision, if the production of yellow corn increases by at least eight million tons (bringing the total production to about 11 million tons), Mexico will be able to declare itself self-sufficient, producing more than 50% of the national demand.

This goal, says Jorge Monreal, is achievable in the medium and long terms, but to achieve it it is necessary to convince farmers that yellow corn can compete in profitability against other successful crops such as berries, avocado or lemon.

The executive assures that the high yield seed supplied by its ally Corteva can generate yields above 10 tons per hectare, that is, comparable to those of the most productive regions of the United States, the main supplier of yellow corn to Mexico.

Does improved seed compete in yield with transgenic seeds?

Yes, of course. Totally. They are seeds with traditional treatment. They are hybrid seeds that have high yield potential. We have seen plots in the state of Jalisco with 15-16 tons per hectare.

From January to December of last year, the value of Mexican grain imports grew by a notable 66% to 5,146 million dollars, establishing itself as the most imported agricultural good in our country, surpassing by a wide margin others such as soybeans (3,362 million dollars), pork (2,030 million) or wheat (1,695 million), according to figures from the trade balance calculated by the Bank of Mexico.

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