Mexican Corn Farmers Threatened by Climate Change

Photo: AGMEfoto / Flickr / February 5, 2011 / Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Although climate change is a global phenomenon, the severity of its effects will vary across the globe. In Tehuacán, a municipality in the Mexican state of Puebla, the effects of climate change are visible in the fields.

According to Reuters, the total area used to grow corn has dropped by almost a fifth since 2015. Lack of rain in the summer months appears to be the primary cause of this decline.

Some villagers see a conspiracy in  the lack of rain. They claim that planes drop silver iodide to disperse storm clouds in order to support egg laying at nearby poultry farms.

However, climate change is not the only threat to the farmers in Tehuacán.

Effects of free trade

The effects of climate change on Mexico’s corn farmers exacerbates an already established downward trend in the industry. Since the passage of NAFTA in the 1990s, Mexican farmers have had to compete directly with American farmers, who employ greater mechanization and improved seeds.

Currently, Mexico produces 3.8 tons of corn per hectare compared to 9.8 tons per hectare in the US.

Trade data from the United Nations International Trade Statistics Database show the effects over the last two decades.

In 2018, Mexico imported $3.25 billion in corn (commodity code 1005) from the United States and an additional $1.05 million from all other countries.

However, in the same year, corn exports from Mexico were a mere $18.9 million to the United States and $236 million to all other countries.

The effects of climate change are expected to worsen unless drastic changes are put in place to cap global greenhouse gas emissions. However, conspiracy theories like those held by some villagers in Tehuacán and sceptical world leaders like US President Donald Trump, conditions are expected to get much worse for the corn farmers in central Mexico before sufficient actions against climate change are made.