At an estimated 600,000 MT, Mexican bean production is expected to cover domestic demand, but worsen the pricing situation for growers.

By Dario Bard

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With good rains and 1.15 million hectares planted, Mexico’s bean harvest has already begun on the country’s 85,969 hectares of irrigated bean fields, with 9,492 MT of beans reaped from 5,178 hectares thus far, a yield of 1.8 MT per hectare.

Most of Mexico’s bean fields, however, are rain-fed. According to a representative from SISPRO (a bean industry association) in the State of Zacatecas, Mexico’s top bean-producing region, 95% of the fields are rain-fed. The case is the same in other major bean-producing states, including Durango, Chihuahua and San Luis. In these areas, the harvest typically begins on the 20th or the 25th of October and runs through December.

“In terms of production,” says Javier Abascal of Abastos Abascal, “I would estimate 600,000 MT of beans for the states of Durango, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Sinaloa and Sonora combined.” These states, he points out, comprise most of Mexico’s bean growing area.He believes this level of production will cover Mexico’s domestic demand.

“Most Mexican bean production is for the domestic market,” says Abascal. “Years ago, Mexicans consumed about 1 million MT, but now I’d say the domestic market is about 600,000 MT.”

As for exports, Abascal says very small amounts are shipped abroad. These include yellow, Peruvian and black beans; most Mexican bean exports are destined for the U.S.

Low Prices for Growers

Abascal notes that Mexican bean prices for growers are low and are likely to go even lower as the harvest begins to come in.

“The prices for beans from the previous harvest are dropping because of the expectation of a large harvest this year,” he says. “A month ago, for instance, black beans were at 10 or 11 pesos per kilo, and now they are at 9.”

“Last year,” he notes, “it looked like the crop would fall short, but we have in fact had a surplus. The thing is we also imported a lot from the U.S. and Canada. Permits have also been given for imports from China, Nicaragua and other parts of the world.”

Consequently, the Mexican bean supply has exceeded the domestic market’s demand. The resulting low prices have led to calls for government intervention by the medium-sized farmers that comprise the Mexican bean industry. The government has responded with a promise to establish a commercial system that assures producers a fair price that covers their initial investment and allows for a profit while also respecting the pocketbooks of consumers.

Producers in Zacatecas wish to see prices increase from 7 pesos per kilo to 15 pesos per kilo. Tensions are high following the late-August kidnapping of Martín Vaquera, a Zacatecas bean industry leader who had been calling for a per kilo price equal to the price of a liter of gas; Vaquera had been held for ransom but regained his freedom earlier this month.

PLANTED AREA AND HARVEST PROGRESS FOR TOP MEXICAN BEAN-PRODUCING STATES
STATE SEEDED (ha) HARVESTED (ha) PRODUCTION (MT)
Chiapas 62,579
Chihuahua 64,768
Durango 165,614
Guanajuato 88,328 1,619 3,097
Puebla 62,323
San Luis Potosi 101,399 118 201
Zacatecas 460,864 9 10
Source: SIAP (Servicio de Información Agroalimentaria y Pesquera)
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