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Mexico Coffee Report: Production Steady Despite Labor Challenges

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Daily Coffee News photo.

After cracking the global top 10 in total green coffee production by volume in 2023, Mexico is expected to see approximately the same level of coffee production in market year 2023/24, while domestic consumption is increasing slightly.

Despite the estimated steady production, Mexico’s coffee sector remains threatened by lack of resources and support to smallholder farmers and inconsistency in investments from the private sector, according to the most recent USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) report.

[Note: This is part of a series of DCN stories exploring the FAS coffee annual reports. The U.S. information agency is currently scheduled to deliver 16 annual country-level reports on the coffee sector. Each of those reports come from different authors and field offices.]

The United States remains by far the largest export market for green, roasted and soluble coffees from Mexico, which is expected to export approximately 3 million 60-kilo bags of green coffee this year. Mexico is also expected to import approximately 1.9 million 60-kilo bags this market year, according to the report.

The authors wrote that production is expected to continue to exceed 2021/2022 levels due to the fruit-bearing maturation of new disease-resistant varieties, plus a period of relatively high international coffee prices that have incentivized increased production and yields.

“Although production is forecast to increase, the industry faces challenges due to a lack of government support, high input costs, and a decrease in the size of the labor force,” the report states. “Mexico’s replanting program, a collaboration between private industry and the government of Mexico (GOM), has helped prevent the spread of coffee rust and increase productivity. However, the private-public replanting program has minimal funding from the current administration, and the private sector is no longer funding it.”

According to the USCA, FAS and other government sources, approximately 90 percent of Mexico’s coffee farmers are small-scale farmers with holdings of 2 hectares or less.

“Industry reports that producers face a shortage of available field laborers, mostly irregular workers from Central America, especially Guatemala,” the FAS office stated. “The [government of Mexico] has significantly reduced the number of irregular immigrants entering Mexico across its southern border. In addition, Mexico’s tourism industry competes for labor and pays substantially more than the agricultural industry.”

The report does note multiple Mexican government-led programs designed to support small-scale farmers, including the Sembrando Vida (Sowing Life) program, which promotes planting, intercropping and shade.

According to Mexican government reports, approximately 6,000 coffee producers have participated in the program, which promotes other food crop production alongside coffee through monthly payments to farmers of up to 6,000 pesos (US$333) per month.

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