Mexico's wheat production on the rise as farmers benefit from incentives program

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

The rise in wheat flour production in Mexico has supported the prevalence of flour tortillas in Mexican cuisine, says the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. ©GettyImages / carlosrojas20
The rise in wheat flour production in Mexico has supported the prevalence of flour tortillas in Mexican cuisine, says the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. ©GettyImages / carlosrojas20

Related tags: Mexico, Wheat

Mexico has increased its wheat production by 63% in the past year thanks to a "price guarantee program," which has subsidized several agricultural commodities to better support Mexican farmers.

Roughly 45% of Mexico's wheat production is grown primarily in far northwest Mexico (in the Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon regions) where it is planted and sprouts in the fall, hibernates in the spring, and is ready for harvest in July, according to Mexican Food Security (SEGALMEX).

The variety grown is an heirloom durum wheat which has applications ranging from tortillas, bakery products, and wheat-based beer. 

According to the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, Sonoran wheat flour has contributed to the shift from traditional corn tortillas to flour tortillas as part, which are part of the growing influence of US/Mexico "Borderlands cuisine."

Production of Sonoran wheat rose from 250,000 tons harvested in the fall/winter 2017/2018 to 407,000 tons in the fall/winter 2018/2019 season, representing a 63% volume increase.

Mexico aims for greater agricultural self sufficiency

The increase in wheat production is largely due to a national plan introduced by the government of Mexico with the goal of achieving self-sufficiency in basic grain production by increasing its exports of the heirloom wheat. 

In his national address late last year, Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, stated that small producers of corn, beans, rice, wheat, and milk would have "guaranteed prices"​ of agri-food products to reduce reliance on imports moving forward.

Mexico currently imports 70% of the wheat it consumes, according to López Obrador.

"In the United States, the government gives the corn grower, the wheat grower, up to 80% of their production cost as a subsidy, they have [access to] cheap credit, they have a lot of support and here the growers were left to their own fate,”​ López Obrador said.

Beginning this year, the Mexican government subsidized wheat commodities to US$302 per tonne (1.1 tons) up to 15 tonnes (16.5 tons).

Under the price guarantee program, small- and medium-sized farmers would also receive semi-annual financial support for the the planting of food.

Wheat farmers in particular will receive US$44m to support its production and operations, the largest incentive wheat farmers have ever received, said López Obrador.

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