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Modernizing for growth: the case of grain storage in Mexico

An investment in improving infrastructure and capacity building, supporting small and medium-sized producers, would offer the boost the sector needs.

Wheat and corn collecting in Mexico

Reforming the grain storage systems in Mexico is necessary to achieve better development and strengthen the sector. The most direct consequence would be greater participation of small and medium-sized producers in the market, which would in turn provide improved infrastructure, financial services adapted to their needs and better job training.

Access to information is a fundamental element of this equation. According to engineer Erika Félix, a FAO investment support officer, “currently, the lack of information regarding prices, climate change and market opportunities limits the decision-making capabilities of small and medium-sized producers.”

This is the basis of the Grain Storage and Information Services for Agricultural Development Project, in which Félix is participating as a member of the project team. The Mexican initiative involves an investment of US $195 million, with financial support from the World Bank and technical support from FAO. A preliminary study conducted by the Bank concluded that there is a need for “building and rehabilitating the storage infrastructure, as well as more inclusive financial mechanisms and a comprehensive system for gathering and disseminating information.” The project was approved last year and is currently in its initial stages.

Félix participated in a recent supervision mission, reviewing some of the activities of the project’s first component, focused on improving infrastructure and corn storage handling in 7 Mexican states (Guanajuato, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Edo de Mexico, Puebla, and Veracruz). “It involves a comprehensive intervention where the support for infrastructure is accompanied by technical support in issues related to the operation, administration and handling of grain quality – both at the collection centers and storage warehouses,” Félix explained. Furthermore, with the direct support of the FAO office in Mexico, the project aims to facilitate better integration of rural collection centers into formal markets.

In these initial stages of the project, studies are being developed that shed light on the current state of the facilities and the new infrastructure required in the beneficiary states. According to the expert, “at this point of the project, it is essential to understand the specific aspects that need improvement in the existing infrastructure, as well as establishing the need for new infrastructure based on productive potential and the markets, as this will help guide investments over time, avoiding the occurrence of ‘white elephants.’”

The storage project complements the program of the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA according to its acronym in Spanish) for developing sustainable rural production, also known as MasAgro. This program is being executed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT according to its acronym in Spanish), thereby establishing an important connection to post-harvest processes and access to markets.

Please note that this article was not originally written in this language.
Author: Agronoticias FAO
Photo Credit: Foto 1 de Lon&Queta (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), Foto 2

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