Food Security in the San Pedro River Valley

The MAUA/San Pedro® dynamic model was created to address contemporary water concerns in the region.  In a wider sense however, its purpose was to assess the Water Security of the Valley. Since the present project is based on the Nexus approach for Food Security, it was the logical sequel to Water Security described above and for which MAUA/San Pedro® was built.

Food Security is a high priority, national objective of the current Mexican administration that defines it as the availability of, access to, use of and stability of supply of food for all Mexicans.  It has been argued that regional Food Security is difficult to evaluate in quantitative terms since in the process of converting agricultural crops to food products, the inputs to the process can cross the border of the region under analysis –in and out- several times blurring what each region contributed to the final product.

There is however a different argument that can be applied to tackle this difficulty. Since Food Security is a country-wide objective in a country where there are a large number of regions analogous to the San Pedro River Valley, a ratio can be computed for each one of them by dividing the region’s agricultural production of crops but converted into food products, by the region’s food product demand of its inhabitants.  The crop-to-food conversion can be accomplished utilizing for example the Plato del Bien Comer, a Mexican norm that tells individuals the daily portions (in grams) of legumes, vegetables, carbohydrates and fruits that they should ingest for a healthy diet.

If the value of the ratio computed in accordance to the previous paragraph is less than 1, this indicates that food production is less than food consumption and that the difference between them has to be imported from other regions (either within the country or from other countries).  Conversely if the ratio is equal or greater than 1, the region under study has capacity to export food.  By applying this procedure to all regions of Mexico and adding their coefficients, divided by the number of regions, a determination can be made of whether the country is an exporter of food or conversely, an importer of food.

From the above explanation it is clear that the computation of Food Security for the entire country of Mexico is a lengthy but important undertaking that is beyond the scope of the present project.  Nevertheless, it was thought out that the computation of the ratio for the San Pedro River Valley could shade some light regarding its food situation. The findings were quite surprising.

As a first step, an algorithm to convert agricultural crops to the four food categories mentioned above was built and coupled to the MAUA/San Pedro® model.  As a second step, the ratio of regional food production to regional food demand for the San Pedro River Valley was programmed into the MAUA/San Pedro® model. A third step involved the formulation of a scenario from 2017 to 2035 in one day increments. In the formulation, it was taken in consideration that the current trend among agricultural producers of the region has been to increase the food exports which means that smaller volume of food will remain in the region for consumption among the inhabitants of the Valley. 

When the scenario was executed, because of the expected population growth in the Valley versus the non-increasing food production volume in the region since agricultural land does not increase, a “gap” of considerable proportion was created over time indicating the need to close it with food imports to the region.  Although it is difficult to predict the future of the global food market, because of the continuous world population growth and the fixed size of the agricultural producing land, it is expected that in the future food will be more expensive and harder to get.

The scenario further indicated that while the San Pedro River Valley has practically full employment, about 60% of its population earns less than four Daily Mexican Salaries, an income that for a typical family of four is not enough to purchase export quality food.  This situation indicates that this segment of the population has as only alternative supplying its food needs from the reminder of the food production whose volume is not enough to satisfy the Plato del Bien Comer norm for everyone.

Clearly this situation does not satisfy the Food Security premises of (1) food availability; (2) food access and (3) stability of supply, but in spite of that, the Secretariat of Agriculture continues to support and foster agro-industry instead of the agriculture for self-consumption that provides the only means to increase the volume of food for an important segment of the population of the San Pedro River Valley.