Skip to main content

How Agricultural Price Shocks Affect Mexico's Drug Trade















Written by Charles Parkinson 





Friday, 07 February 2014






 


A maize farm in Sinaloa, Mexico















New research has focused on how the changing fortunes of Mexico's agricultural sector can instigate drug crop production and cartel activity, a valuable albeit imperfect addition to research into the drivers behind the country's rampant violence.














The study "From Maize to Haze: Agricultural Shocks and the Growth of the Mexican Drug Sector" (pdf), conducted by academic researchers at New York University, focuses on the dynamics of Mexico's maize farming between 1990 and 2010. 





It highlights how price fluctuations -- driven by factors such as conditions in other producer countries and international trade agreements -- can adversely affect the viability of domestic production, in turn catalyzing drug production and organized crime activity.






The researchers selected maize as the reference point because of its historical domination of Mexico's agricultural sector. 





According to the study, maize farming employed at least 29 percent of the country's agricultural workers in 1990, with the second-largest products, coffee and cacao, employing just 4 percent combined. 






Many of the most suitable regions for growing maize, particularly Mexico's Pacific coastal spine, also coincide with key marijuana and poppy production zones (see maps from study below). 





The fact that 62 percent of maize farmers (compared to 48 percent overall) were listed as not having a boss or supervisor -- suggestive of family-type operations -- was also significant. 




Drug crop cultivation is generally overseen by small-scale producers, therefore making a greater proportion of maize farmers ideal candidates for such a switch.






SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles











The research builds around the idea that when maize prices fall, impoverished farmers are more inclined to cultivate illicit crops. 




It takes drug crop eradication figures as the best indicator of production levels -- based on the assertion by Mexican and US authorities that 75 percent of drug crops are eradicated -- and compares them to historic maize prices.








One of the report's key findings is the consistent negative relationship between maize prices -- which tumbled 59 percent between 1990 and 2005 -- and eradication (see charts from the study below), with spikes in marijuana and poppy eradication in prominent maize growing municipalities.







According to the report, there is also a similar negative relationship between maize prices and cartel presence and killings -- based on aggregated media reports -- with the study stating, "These results suggest that cartels sought to control economically depressed territories where farmers are willing to supply more illicit crops."








In making the connection between maize prices and cartel violence, the study asserts that when crop prices are depressed, agricultural workers become more valuable to cartels because they will accept lower prices for illicit crops, thereby providing cartels with a bigger cut of the market sale price. In this way, the report offers an alternative explanation to the common assertion that economic depression fuels violence by providing a ready pool of combatants for cartels, stating, "We posit that violence rises in our empirical scenario not from the number of fighters, but from the increased value of controlling territories adversely affected by price shocks."








In its conclusions, the report emphasizes the crucial role government policies can have on the drug trade when they lead to price depressions in rural zones suitable for illicit crops, citing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a specific example and calling for policymakers to "consider the implications of measures such as trade agreements and agricultural reforms on the rural narco-economy."










InSight Crime Analysis


Though the observations and conclusions drawn in this study are an eye-opening take on drug violence dynamics, there is perhaps too much emphasis placed on maize as a driver. While the research is thorough in applying controls and variables, to some extent it fails to fully explore how the patterns noted could be intertwined with other factors.






A key point that eludes consideration is the exponential rise of drug crop cultivation noted since former President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in late 2006.





 While it is entirely feasible that falling maize prices contributed to the decision among farmers to grow opium or marijuana crops, the fact that the concentration of security services in urban areas diminished the risk associated with growing such crops places a fifth of the test period under markedly different conditions.





 Not only does this offer an alternative driver for drug crop cultivation, but it casts doubt over the assumption that 75 percent of drug crops were eradicated throughout the period -- a cornerstone of the study's methodology.

















Another element worthy of greater attention is the development of Mexican cartels over recent decades. 





While the report gives mention to this, it does not explore it in great depth. 




As the study highlights, Mexican cartels have evolved from brokers and middlemen for Colombian cartels into Latin America's most prominent organized criminal presence. As they have grown to take a greater share of drug economy profits, Mexican criminal groups have been known to press farmers into drug crop production






This active role instigating drug crop cultivation is somewhat lost in the study, which often seems to depict organized crime passively waiting for macroeconomic conditions to provide the ideal moment to expand operations.







Caution should be taken, too, in accepting that patterns noted through this research supercede commonly held assertions, such as the manner in which economic depression drives violence. 







Rather than the increased value of drug producing territory offering an alternative theory to the narrative of unemployment serving up foot soldiers to cartels, the two theories are entirely compatible. 







While the value of drug producing regions may cause a spike in violence, those perpetrating it may or may not be from the area in question. 






It is quite possible that those dying in key drug crop zones are young males -- as many of the homicide victims of Mexico's violence tend to be -- shipped in from urban centers to do the cartels' bidding. 





A collation of the ages of victims and origins relative to the murder scene would be a worthy supplement to this study.







Despite these pitfalls, the research is not short of value. 






As its authors point out, the concept of agricultural commodity prices as drivers of drug crop cultivation and cartel activity is a little studied and under-reported phenomenon. 





The consistent correlations between the likes of maize prices and assumed drug production levels established by the report warrant further exploration, not just from academics, but from policy makers. 





If, as is suggested, agreements such as NAFTA have played such a direct role in bolstering domestic drug production, the decision making process for any such agreements in the future should include a thorough assessment of the potential effect on the drug economy, something that in the past appears to have been lacking.










http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/how-agricultural-price-shocks-affect-mexicos-drug-trade






Popular posts from this blog

MEET MELANIA TRUMP: The 5'11" supermodel married to Donald Trump

Aly Weisman, INSIDER

Sep. 2, 2015, 3:28 PM 











Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images







While Donald Trump loves to be the center of media attention, his third and current wife, Melania Trump, is a bit more camera shy.










The Slovenian-born model keeps a lower profile than her husband, doing philanthropy work, raising their son, working on a jewelry collection with QVC, and creating a $150-an-ounce caviar moisturizer.




With Trump on the campaign trail, Melania has stoically stood by his side.




But who exactly is Melania and where did she come from? Learn about Trump's other half here ...





Melania Knauss was born April 26, 1970, in Slovenia.




Wikimedia/Getty







The 5'11" brunette began her modeling career at 16, and signed with a modeling agency in Milan at 18.



Chris Hondros/Newsmakers via Getty









She took a break from modeling to get her degree in design and architecture at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.








Wikimedia/Getty

Source: MelaniaTrump.com









But after graduating, her modeling career took off and Me…

THE MOST SOUGHT AFTER MANGOES IN THE WORLD ....

While "Flavor" is very subjective, and each country that grows mangoes is very nationalistic, these are the mango varieties that are the most sought after around the world because of sweetnesss (Brix) and demand.

The Chaunsa has a Brix rating in the 22 degree level which is unheard of!
Carabao claims to be the sweetest mango in the world and was able to register this in the Guiness book of world records.
Perhaps it is time for a GLOBAL taste test ???





In alphabetical order by Country....










India




Alphonso





Alphonso (mango)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia








Alphonso (हापुस Haapoos in Marathi, હાફુસ in Gujarati, ಆಪೂಸ್ Aapoos in Kannada) is a mango cultivar that is considered by many[who?] to be one of the best in terms of sweetness, richness and flavor. 


It has considerable shelf life of a week after it is ripe making it exportable. 

It is also one of the most expensive kinds of mango and is grown mainly in Kokan region of western India.

 It is in season April through May and the fruit wei…

INDIA 2016 : Mango production in state likely to take a hit this year

TNN | May 22, 2016, 12.32 PM IST






Mangaluru: Vagaries of nature is expected to take a toll on the production of King of Fruits - Mango - in Karnataka this year. A combination of failure of pre-monsoon showers at the flowering and growth stage and spike in temperature in mango growing belt of the state is expected to limit the total production of mango to an estimated 12 lakh tonnes in the current season as against 14 lakh tonnes in the last calendar year.



However, the good news for fruit lovers is that this could see price of mangoes across varieties decrease marginally by 2-3%. This is mainly on account of 'import' of the fruit from other mango-growing states in India, said M Kamalakshi Rajanna, chairperson, Karnataka State Mango Development and Marketing Corporation Ltd.




Karnataka is the third largest mango-growing state in India after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.



Inaugurating a two-day Vasanthotsava organized by Shivarama Karantha Pilikula Nisargadhama and the Corporation at P…