Despite the land reform, which also represents a major event in the history of the Mexican economy, agriculture is far from having achieved a development related to the real possibilities of the country, which due to the variety of its climates can practically allow any type of cultivation, and least of all to its needs. On the contrary, in 1980 the government launched a special agricultural program, the Mexicano Food System (SAM), intended to relaunch, thanks to a huge financial contribution, agricultural production, especially the most widely consumed foodstuffs, so as to reduce the growing dependence from abroad in this area and to finally solve the problem of undernourishment which is estimated to still affect 40% of Mexicans: however, the results have been very poor. In particular, the living conditions of a large part of the peasant masses are very backward; evidence of the structural weakness of the agricultural sector on the one hand is the fact that it participates for 3.8% in the production of national income, while employing 15% of the active population, on the other hand the fact that almost all agricultural production is due to a relatively small number of large farms, often born from the downsizing of the ancient estates where the most profitable cultivation techniques are practiced, unlike subsistence agriculture with little technology and investment practiced by small farmers.
According to smber, the land reform has in fact remained incomplete, so to speak: the distribution of mini-funds, which are often not very productive, has not greatly improved the situation in rural areas. ejidatorios, have very little chance of giving a modern imprint to their business. The government has, however, prepared various tools to support agricultural communities, such as the creation of the Ejidal Credit and other entities, which grant loans, assign agricultural machinery, fertilizers, etc., but the stimulus for the formation of large and modern cooperatives has been lacking. they should have been the logical outlet for the ejidos. The cultivated area is not particularly extensive (14.3% of the national territory), while large areas, not exploited by agriculture due to their semi-arid climate, could be recovered with adequate irrigation works. The main crop is that of maize, a traditional cereal which is the most important local food; it is cultivated both by small landowners and in large and modern farms to the point of making Mexico the fourth largest producer in the world. In the northern areas wheat is widespread and rice-growing is practiced in the humid lowlands; the productions of sorghum and barley are also considerable. The cultivation of beans is also fundamental, which together with corn are the basis of the Mexican diet; the production of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers, sweet potatoes and numerous other agricultural products; vegetables find an important market in the United States. In the southern areas the climate allows good harvests of tropical fruit, such as bananas, coconuts, pineapples; no less important and cultivated everywhere are citrus fruits (for which Mexico is the fourth producer in the world), to which is added, in the dry regions of the North and Center, the vine; fruit growing in a temperate environment is also widespread (apples, pears, peaches, plums, etc.). The range of industrial crops varies; among the main ones is the traditional one of agaves, such as sisalana agave (which is affected by competition from Brazil and various African countries), from which the textile fiber is obtained henequén and which comes mainly from Yucatán.
Plantations of agaves are also present on the plateau, where they are widely exploited for the production of spirits such as pulque, the national drink, and tequila, a brandy also appreciated abroad. The irrigated areas of the North and the coastal plains, which are also irrigated, produce high quantities of cotton; among the other oilseeds, soy, sesame, peanut, flax, oil palm are well represented; there is no lack of olive trees. In the coastal lowlands, especially in the south-west, sugar cane thrives; on the humid slopes of the tierras templadas (Veracruz, Oaxaca, Guerrero) coffee is grown, while from the tierras calientes (Chiapas, and Tabasco) comes the cocoa. The cultivation of tobacco is also widespread (Nayarit, Veracruz, Oaxama), of excellent quality. § Woods and forests play a certain importance in the country’s economy and the area of most intense exploitation is the southern belt with its tropical forests, which produce precious woods (mahogany, ebony, cedar, sandalwood, rosewood). There are also tannic essences and dyes; from sapotiglia we get chicle, raw material of chewing-gum of which Mexico is one of the major producers.
Breeding is an important activity, practiced since the beginning of colonization in large ranchos that they still exist in the North, where the organization of the US West is repeated a little and where beef cattle breeding prevails; in the lands of the Center and the South, on the other hand, dairy cattle prevail. In addition to cattle, Mexico’s livestock heritage includes sheep and goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, mules and poultry. § The fishing sector is likely to expand considerably thanks to the country’s considerable fishing potential which, however, is not organized on an industrial scale; however, substantial funding has been allocated to increase fishing activity and the annual catch. This activity has its main bases in the Gulf of California (Guaymas, Mazatlán), in Manzanillo on the Pacific Ocean, in Tampico and Ciudad del Carmen on the Gulf of Mexico. Tuna, sardines and shellfish abound, widely exported to the United States.