AMERICA/MEXICO - The complaint of a Bishop: "Corruption strangles bean farmers"

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Durango (Agenzia Fides) - A bishop defends small bean farmers, the backbone of domestic agriculture, that suffer from abuse by private wholesalers, and because of the corruption of the government bodies responsible for controls. The complaint was sent to Fides by Mgr. Enrique Sánchez Martínez, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Durango. In an open letter to the Archbishop he criticizes the system used for the bean trade, sponsored by two state agencies: the "Secretariat for agriculture, livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food" (SAGARPA) and the "Support Service for Agriculture Trade" (ASERCA).
Under the current system, small business owners and farmers (owners of land up to 20 hectares ) must deliver their product (various types of beans) to the central warehouses of the area (a kind of wholesalers) that evaluate the goodness, and buy it at a price set by the state. In November, 2013, however, these "people in charge" of warehouses (called "acopiadoras") did not want to buy the beans, claiming that the government gave them a subsidy which was too low. So small producers were forced to sell the product to black market dealers. The fact is, said the bishop, that these illegal merchants are, in many places, those in charge of agricultural wholesale warehouses.
The situation is scandalous: on one side, who, however, delivered the goods to wholesalers (at the suggestion of federal authority) in December 2013 has not received payment yet, on the other hand, who sold the goods to the illegal merchants was paid badly and now lives great economic difficulties.
The text of the letter sent to Fides by Mgr. Enrique Martínez Sánchez is captivating: "Many families have sold the fruit of their labor at a cheap price, because their children’s school fee was expiring, or because they had to pay their debts. This is why they were forced to sell sacks of beans to unscrupulous merchants who underpaid them. But these are the same authorized wholesalers (acopiadoras)! It is something that has existed for a long time and strangles small farmers. The Bishop’s letter concludes with an appeal: "Our people need, above all, that the corruption of those who have the responsibility to monitor the marketing systems for agricultural products to decrease".
In Mexico and in Central American countries, beans represent one of the mainstay products of the daily diet of the population. Mexico produces 1.5 billion tons of beans per year and there are 70 varieties of locally grown beans. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 15/03/2014)