Economy#Between the lines | Agricultural census 2022. They are...

#Between the lines | Agricultural census 2022. They are not roses, it is poppy

(Expansion) – The Mexican countryside carries some mysteries. Where, how, who, what exactly is produced in Mexico? The best mechanism to reveal them is the Agricultural Census.

The first occurred in 1930. In relatively recent times, others were recorded in 1970, 1981 and one more in 1991. Many years passed and it was not until 2007 that another census was taken. Now, on September 19, the 2022 Agricultural Census began.

Thus, the in-depth history of the countryside in our country is characterized by isolated censuses, photographs of a moment, which in some way has prevented long-term public policies from being (and sustained). What has been applied frequently are the National Agricultural Surveys, but given their nature they lack the disaggregation that allows us to have a detailed film of the sector.

So, there are many things that we do not know about the transformation process that our field has experienced. For this reason, the 2022 Agricultural Census is good news, but above all it is strategic due to the results it will yield that will allow actions to be taken to ‘sow’ a future with better conditions for all.

We are not facing a battery of questions and answers that will be carried away by the wind. Thanks to this census we will know, for example, how many producers have access to financing, if they are using improved seeds, their income levels, what technology they use; also, what happens to day laborers, the effects of migration and where are the areas where agricultural production depends mainly on women.

The 2022 Agricultural Census, moreover, is inserted at a key moment to locate the state that keeps the productivity of the Mexican countryside and what elements we have to increase food production taking into account that, by 2050, Mexico would have a population of 150 million people. Therefore, it is urgent to have a clear panorama to design public policies that allow us to face the situation and beyond.

“We hope that this census reflects that film that we are experiencing today in the sector and that the government can redirect public policies that allow an improvement in agriculture,” says Luis Fernando Haro, director of the National Agricultural Council (CNA). “There is a part of the field, especially small and medium producers, with a delay in the use of new technologies. Also, we need to locate the poles of agricultural development and the opportunities that we could integrate into the productive chains”.

There are things that are already known about the field. On the one hand, there is a successful exporting field that uses technology, has access to financing and can boast international safety certifications. There is another in transition, with medium-sized producers, which is beginning to be recognized for its production of grains and oilseeds. And there is the other field that lives trapped by political patronage and is subject to other threats.

And this is where this story has its turning point.

The 2022 Agricultural Census will face a challenge: gathering information in red zones. The narco is a factor that can complicate the possibility of having a clear portrait of the Mexican countryside. The INEGI, without the slightest doubt, has the experience and recognition to take a census, but there are certain areas where asking questions can be a matter of life or death.

A few days ago, in an interview with Carmen Aristegui, Graciela Márquez, president of INEGI, reported that there is no census that is worth the lives of censors and censors, that the Institute has the tools to handle conflictive situations without putting anyone at risk of its officials and that they enjoy the recognition of all spheres of Mexican society to do their work; of all.

“There have been many occasions in which in very conflictive areas, even criminal figures say: ‘They are from INEGI, there is no problem with them.’ I can’t tell you that this happens all the time, but there is recognition that our work is for statistical purposes,” he said.

Nobody knows the degree of involvement of the drug trafficker in the field. There are no exact figures that allow us to determine the total area of land planted with poppies, coca, marijuana. There is talk of thousands of hectares. It is clear that the countryside has been reconfigured in the face of violence, the presence of organized crime groups and illicit crops. It is known that the life of many peasants has changed to their misfortune.

“The film (of the field) that we had in 2007 was very different from the current one. We have production areas where, unfortunately, organized crime is controlling the plaza. In some areas it could be difficult to obtain information, technology (satellite images) could help solve this obstacle, but I do believe that the census will be complicated, risky or will not be allowed”, affirms Luis Fernando Haro.

There is something else: it will not be possible to determine exactly what is grown in certain areas. In the aforementioned interview, Graciela Márquez explained that the INEGI personnel write down what the ‘informants’ answer in such a way that, even if the censors observe that poppies are planted there, if the ‘informant’ says that they are roses, they are roses. “We have enormous respect for our informants, we write down what they tell us. We are not the authority, we do not ask if the crops are legal or illegal, but the number of cultivated hectares. We do not judge the informant.”

That said, some of the sections of the 2022 Agricultural Census will account for hectares in which, according to the ‘informants’, roses are grown, when in fact it is poppy or any other illicit crop; It will be in the “metadata” and in the “other crops” section where the INEGI staff will report the difficulties and findings that they recorded during the information gathering.

Anyway, you have to place things in the corresponding dimension.

The 2022 Agricultural Census is a tool to get closer to the transformation process of the Mexican countryside; We will have to wait for the government, with the results in hand, to take action to face the new times. But, also, a mystery will not be solved; the one that forces many producers to live thinking that their days are numbered.


Last week, the President of the Republic met with businessmen from the food industry to maintain the prices of 24 basic products. The call was accepted by large companies. Others, on the other hand, maintain that inflation is like a noose around the neck. Thus, whether or not to increase prices will depend on the conditions registered by each company. Consumption, then, will continue to be stressed and punished.

Editor’s note: Jonathán Torres is managing partner of BeGood, Atelier de Reputación and Storydoing; business journalist, media consultant, former editorial director of Forbes Media Latam. Follow him on and on Twitter as . The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.

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