As he inaugurated the 77th Congress of the National Executive Committee of the National Farm Workers’ Confederation (CNC), President Enrique Peña Nieto said that, “Mexican farm workers have an ally in the government that shares and fully agrees with the objectives and major goals of this farm workers’ organization.”

“Together we will continue to strengthen the food security of the country and provide a better standard of living for those who make their livelihood from farming in Mexico,” he said.

The president said that in the government, “We are promoting a comprehensive project that will change the face of the countryside to make it more competitive and profitable, more inclusive, and above all with great respect for our environment.”

He said that the actions the government has undertaken in favor of the Mexican countryside are reflected in the current dynamism of Mexico’s agricultural sector: “According to figures from INEGI, in 2014, the primary sector, in other words, agricultural activity in our country, grew 3.2 percent.”

He added: “This sector had more dynamism and growth, and in the first half of 2015, an annual increase of 4.5 per cent was reported, higher than the rate at which the economy as a whole is growing.

He mentioned another important fact: “according to INEGI figures, the value of agrifood exports exceeded 14 billion dollars in the first half of 2015. This was 5.2 percent higher than it had in the same period last year.”

President Peña Nieto mentioned six actions the government has undertaken in favor of the Mexican countryside:

FIRST: “We converted subsidies, which used to be welfare-based, into productivity incentives. Since 2013, support in the new Productive PROAGRO is delivered in exchange for beneficiaries’ commitment to use them to produce more, better quality products.

“And farm producers have shown us and confirmed that they are men and women who keep their word: last year 98 percent of PROAGRO beneficiaries accredited the good use of resources to invest in fertilizers and improved seeds, or labor and other types of work for preparing the land.

“Productive PROAGRO is working. This year we will serve 2.3 million producers, with an investment of over $13.6 billion pesos.”

SECOND: “We pledged to provide more credit and ensure that it was cheaper for the countryside, and we are delivering on our promise. Thanks to the financial reform, which renewed the social mission of the State Development Bank, during the first half of the year, the country’s institutions have made 187.8 billion pesos available in loans to the agricultural and rural sector in our country.

"The best example of this financing are the loans the National Development Financing Organization has provided, with cheaper rates, seven percent a year for small producers and 6.5 percent for projects led by the female farm workers in our country.”

The president reported that the portfolio of new clients of the National Financial Organization for Agricultural, Rural, Forestry and Fisheries Development is 150,000 accredited clients “who have come to benefit from the loans granted to the agricultural sector. Over 25 percent have been allocated to Mexico’s female farm workers.”

THIRD: To increase the productivity of crops, we are also strengthening irrigation technology and the modernization of the countryside. “During the period from 2013 to 2014, 267,000 hectares were equipped with irrigation technology throughout the country and this year the figure is estimated to reach 150,000, making a total of 417,000 hectares in the first three years of this administration.”

In addition, he said, “The productivity and modernization of agriculture has been promoted through support for the purchase of tractors, and to date we have supported the purchase of 6,580 units.”

“In short, we now have a country that has been modernized through greater mechanization, with modern irrigation and mechanization through tractors, to raise the productivity of the nation’s countryside,” he explained.

FOURTH: With the Innovation Program for Applied Technological Development and the integration of value chains, we are increasing farmers’ productivity and income. “Nine National Centers of Innovation and Technology Transfer have been created, designed for local producers to modernize their activities, incorporate new technologies and add more value to their work in the countryside.”

FIFTH: The government is promoting more effective schemes in terms of market regulation and risk management. “In coordination with local governments, we updated target income levels, expanded contract farming schemes and reinforced the actions for market risk management to provide producers with greater certainty, from planting to marketing their crops.

“In a nutshell, what this action involves is monitoring which crops should be produced, improving support for marketing these products, how we are providing support so that producers do not experience losses in their crops and can place them on domestic and international markets at better prices.

“The government is not abandoning Mexican farm workers to their fate.” On the contrary, we are accompanying them from the way they produce, to what they produce and how we help them market their produce effectively. The government is still a firm, permanent ally of Mexico’s farm workers.”

SIXTH: “Through better health and safety practices, and an active trade policy, we are expanding international markets for Mexican food products. We have thereby opened the doors to products such as tequila, berries and strawberries to China in the East; grapefruit to Japan; pomegranate, dragon fruit and figs to the United States; and limes to Korea. This is part of the action to expand the marketing and presence of food products made in Mexico in international markets.”

At the event, President Peña Nieto thanked the CNC, “For accompanying the transformation proposed by the government, particularly any public policy we have promoted to support the countryside in our country and make it more productive, more profitable, and capable of providing greatness and development for families that make their livelihood from the countryside.”

He also witnessed the signing of an agreement between the CNC and the National Financial Organization for Agricultural, Rural, Forestry and Fisheries Development, in order to continue promoting credit for the benefit of Mexico’s farm workers.

CNC ENDORSES ITS COMMITMENT TO WORK TO IMPLEMENT SWEEPING REFORMS

President of the National Executive Committee of the CNC, Manuel Cota Jiménez emphasized the agreement of the organization he leads to work more vigorously to implement the reforms promoted by the president.

“Aware that any transformation has its difficult moments, and in some cases of resistance, but convinced of the value of the sweeping reforms that have been set in motion in our country, we agree to continue fighting to complement them,” he declared.

Referring to the agreement signed today, he said it will serve to accelerate the pace and reaffirm the commitment to continuing to promote the agricultural sector. He mentioned that during the period from 2008-2012, the Gross Domestic Product of the agrifood sector recorded an average rate of 1 percent, and in 2014, it recorded an average rate of 2.1, making it one of the country’s most dynamic sectors.

The CNC leader pledged that this organization will continue to be modernized and become more productive and profitable in its activity, and “Above all, benefits will be more equitably distributed among those with least to continue transforming the countryside in Mexico.”

REFORMING THE COUNTRYSIDE IS POSSIBLE, AS ARE THE TANGIBLE BENEFITS OF THE SWEEPING REFORMS IMPLEMENTED: JORGE HERRERA CALDERA

Governor of Durango Jorge Herrera Caldera stressed his support for President Peña Nieto’s commitment to promoting a sweeping reform of the countryside. “A responsible reform in the present and visionary as regards the future. A reform that is possible, like the benefits that are already tangible thanks to the sweeping reforms already underway.”

“A reform of the countryside to go from losses to profits, from welfare support to productive support. A reform to consolidate a countryside with a human face to ensure social rights, decent housing, sufficient income, health protection and education for their children,” he added.

He explained that Financial Reform has expanded opportunities for the countryside through more, cheaper and above all, timely credit with special support for female farm workers.

He said that in Durango, as a result of the reforms, recent years have seen the creation of approximately 50 thousand formal jobs and in the past two years, irrigation systems have been implemented in over 20 hectares. Moreover, he said, together with Nayarit, the state ranks first in poverty reduction.