Grupo Nestlé Mexico said it currently imports 90% of the 175,000 tons of corn and 100% of the 50,000 tons of wheat it annually requires for the production of cereals brands like Corn Flakes, Fitness and Cereal Nesquik, and pet food products.
However, according to the company’s CEO, Marcelo Melchior, Mexico does have the potential to produce their grains locally.
As such, the Plan Maíz (Maize for Mexico Plan) has been created to support national farmers to improve productivity.
Nestlé, Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture (SAGARPA), the Government of Guanajuato and other international bodies are providing a $5m investment to the CIMMYT to commence the project in the state of Guanajuato in Bajio, central Mexico.
Boost economy, farmers’ wellbeing
The program is expected to boost the country’s economy by Mex$1bn ($56m) annually and support 2,200 local producers who will increase their income by improving productivity at lower production costs.
The farmers will also have access to resources to purchase seed, get technical assistance and have an established infrastructure to market their produce.
Melchior said the company’s move is aligned with SAGARPA’s National Agricultural Plan 2017-2030 to develop more communities that are prosperous.
“We have the experience to support the development of national agriculture, as we have done with Nescafé Plan, Cacao Plan and Milk Commitment,” he said.
Vulnerable to climate change
According to CIMMYT regional director for Latin America, Bram Govaerts, the Maize Plan will also promote environmentally responsible agricultural practices.
“We want this grain to be produced with agricultural practices that prevent environmental degradation and depletion of resources, and which reduce the vulnerability of Mexican producers to the effects of climate change,” said Govaerts.
All projects will follow the intensive agricultural practices promoted by MasAgro Maize, a component of CIMMYT’s Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture project.
These include integrated management of biodiversity – such as better yields with less water use – pest management and reducing depletion of soil nutrients.
Melchior said products made with Mexican maize and wheat will be mainly sold in Mexico, with a smaller percentage being exported to other countries.