· In the Mexican countryside, we have promoted a fundamental change: shifting from a subsidy-based welfare policy to one based on incentives to raise productivity and democratize food productivity, he said.

· Today, the Mexican countryside is on the rise, and the sustained growth of the agricultural sector in recent years has strengthened our country, he said.

As he closed the 32nd Ordinary General Assembly of the National Agricultural Council (CNA), President Enrique Peña Nieto called on all those involved in the various activities of this sector to continue, “Joining forces so that the transformation of Mexican agriculture is reflected in improved welfare for families who make their livelihood from farming.”

“Let us continue working together to build a modern, productive rural sector that will contribute to wealth creation in the various regions of our country,” he said.

The president said that he has instructed the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), to “reinforce the strategy we have used so far in order to have a more competitive, profitable, inclusive, sustainable countryside, the four goals we want for the countryside, which we set at the beginning of this administration.”

He said that this strategy should include the following actions:

FIRST: “Exceed the goals we have set as regards modern irrigation, which is undoubtedly both viable and possible. To date, we have implemented technified irrigation in 417 hectares, equivalent to 92 percent of the six-year goal we set ourselves of 450,000 hectares”.

He said that based on the positive results obtained, “We think it is not only feasible to overcome the goal, but also to significantly expand it.”

SECOND: “Greater mechanization for small farmers. We want them to have access to more tractors and highly effective technology packages.”

THIRD: “Recovery of eroded land. The goal is to have more fertile land through the recovery of 200,000 hectares by 2018, and we have clearly identified where we will have to do this work.”

FOURTH: Post-harvest protection. The next stage of the country’s agro-industrial development should benefit small and medium producers through greater and better agricultural infrastructure such as cold storage and washing and packaging facilities.”

FIFTH: “Promote a different policy for women producers. Women are playing an increasingly important role in the development of the Mexican countryside. The government should support them, and is already doing so and will continue to overcome the additional barriers they face in gaining access to programs. This government wished to accompany the women in this sector, which it has already done and will continue to do.”

DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE ADMINISTRATION, WE WILL CONTINUE TRANSFORMING THE FACE OF THE FOOD BUSINESS

President Peña Nieto said that on the basis of these and other actions arising from the public policy the government has adopted, which it has been improving and streamlining with the guidance of those involved in this sector, “During the second half of this administration, we will implement a policy to continue transforming the face of the food business of our country.”

After thanking the ANC for its outstanding contribution through its efforts to, “Increase the country’s food security and consolidate Mexico as a global agribusiness power,” the president declared that since the beginning of this administration, “We have worked shoulder to shoulder to transform and reposition the Mexican countryside as an engine of regional and national development.”

“Today the Mexican countryside is definitely on the rise. The sustained growth of the agricultural sector in recent years strengthens our country,” he said.

By way of an example, he said that Mexico is:

· The main exporter of avocado, beer, guava, mango, cucumber and watermelon.

· The second largest exporter of lime and tomato.

· The second largest producer of chilies and peppers.

· The fourth largest producer of berries and octopus.

· The second largest supplier of agricultural products to the United States.

He added that “Nearly 99 percent of strawberries, 97 percent of artichokes, 94 percent of zucchini, 88 percent of tomatoes and 84 percent of the peppers consumed in the United States are grown on Mexican soil.”

· The president declared that, “In the Mexican countryside, we have promoted a fundamental change: shifting from a subsidy-based welfare policy to one based on incentives to raise productivity and democratize food productivity.”

Thus, he continued, “PROCAMPO gave way to the new Productive PROAGRO. Now funds are given to producers according to their scale,  so that they will effectively allocate resources to the acquisition of inputs or improvements to increase their yields. This is important because Productive PROAGRO is the agricultural policy instrument with the greater coverage among the rural population, providing support for over 2.3 million farmers.” He added that the new program has been well accepted, since currently, on average, 98 percent of registered producers have accredited the correct use of funds.

He added that the productivity approach is also present in the Incentive Program for Producers of Corn and Beans. “As a result, 200,000 small farmers in 27 states of the country received technology packages that allow them to as much as triple their crop yields.” In addition, he said, “They are now given technical support from planting to marketing their products, through a new model of comprehensive extensionism,”

14,900 KILOMETERS OF RURAL AND FEEDER ROADS HAVE BEEN BUILT AND MODERNIZED

President Peña Nieto explained that in order to facilitate trade, 14,900 kilometers of rural and feeder roads have been built and rehabilitated.

“The government is also promoting the adoption of new technologies in the Mexican countryside. Through the Innovation Program for Applied Technology Development, we are promoting greater investment in research and development in this sector. Nine National Innovation and Technology Transfer Centers have been created, where local producers are engaging in production processes and adding more value to their work,” he said.

He said that, “With this set of measures, with increasing openness to the world and the initiative and innovation of the men and women in our food industry, today, not only are there more domestic foods on Mexicans’ tables, there are also more Mexican products on tables all over the world.”

He announced that as a proportion of total supply, domestic production of corn, wheat, beans, rice, sorghum and soybeans, rose from 62 percent in 2012 to nearly 70 percent in 2014, meaning greater food security.

“During the first 35 months of this administration, Mexico’s agricultural sales to the world rose to $74 billion USD;  in other words, 66 percent more than during the same period in the previous administration. In particular, meat exports tripled, and fruit, citrus and cocoa exports doubled in this same comparison,” he explained.

The president said that, “In the first 10 months of this year alone, agricultural and agro-industrial exports exceeded $22.4 billion USD, equivalent to an annual increase of 5.3 percent over the same period last year and of course the projections for the end of this year are even higher. We may eventually reach a figure of approximately $28 billion USD in exports.”

Thus, he continued, “For the first time in 20 years, during these same 10 months, the primary sector showed a trade balance with a surplus of more than $1.2 billion USD.

At the event, the president witnessed the signing of a Collaboration and Transparency Agreement between the National Agricultural Council and SAGARPA. He also presented the National Agrifood Award 2015 in the following categories: Inputs and Services for the Sector, Small; Inputs and Services for the Sector, Medium; and Inputs and Services for the Sector, Large; as well as in the Large Agro-Industrial Category.

THE AGRI-FOOD INDUSTRY HAS ACHIEVED FAVORABLE RESULTS, WITH ANNUAL GROWTH EXCEEDING THAT OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY: CALZADA ROVIROSA

SAGARPA Director José Eduardo Calzada Rovirosa said that the public policies adopted in the food sector by President Peña Nieto have yielded favorable results.

He said that, “Halfway into the Administration, the average annual growth of agricultural and fisheries activities was 4 percent higher than the growth of the national economy as a whole.” He added, “We have achieved a significant pace in exports, achieving an average annual increase of 6.3 percent in the past three years.”

Taking stock of the situation in the Mexican countryside, he said that livestock is the category with the second highest income from exports in the sector, only below beer, noting that in 2014, the Gross Domestic Product for fisheries grew by 9 percent.

He said that the budget SAGARPA will spend in 2016 is over four billion pesos than that for this year, and will be used to provide specific support for women. He added that Mexico ranks 12th worldwide in food production and enjoys a health status enabling it to offer high quality food and open up new markets.

Calzada Rovirosa welcomed the collaboration agreement signed today with the National Agricultural Council to implement transparency actions, program evaluation and purging voter lists.  “This is the first time in history that the SAGARPA has opened up its lists and requested producers’ accompaniment in the supervision of the program’s beneficiaries,” he explained.

MEXICO’S COUNTRYSIDE  IS A PRIORITY FOR THE GOVERNMENT: GRAYEB RUIZ

President of the National Agricultural Council Benjamín Grayeb Ruiz said that three years into this administration, “We can confidently say that for your government, Mr. President, the Mexican countryside has been high on the national agenda.”

Before this government, he said, the agricultural sector had been growing very slowly, at rates of 1.6 percent on average, “We had a deficit agrifood balance, for as long as I can remember, of an average of over four billion dollars.”

He said: “These results are not the work of fate or coincidence or luck. That does not exist, Mr. President. They are derived from actions and specific events that have driven the development of the national food industry.”

Grayeb Ruiz confirmed the National Agricultural Council’s  support of the president: “We support the major decisions that create the changes needed in our country, and you have allies for your project, a project called Mexico,” he said.