Sunday, November 11, 2012

Seven of 10 Mexican households report food shortages


Guadalajara -
Mexicans are hungry - literally.

In the just-published results of a federal government survey, 70% of households reported less food available in 2012 than in 2011. One of ten homes acknowledged that in the previous 24 hours, a family member went without anything to eat. In rural areas, where poverty is chronic, the latter number rose to 13%.

The report, released Friday, says that nationwide 70% of Mexican homes must contend with food shortages. In 42% of households the problem is routine but not critical. In 18% it's moderate,and in 10.5% it's severe. In each of those categories, the numbers were about 3% higher in rural areas.

Food shortages were most felt in southern states (76.2%), and the least so in northern ones (65.2%).

Survey participants responded on the basis of subjective perceptions and objective observations, with specific reference to the quantity and quality of food available in their homes. The 70% who reported they had less to eat in 2012 than in 2011 expressed a general impression that such was the case, while the 10% who said a family member or acquaintance had gone hungry in the previous 24 hours spoke from first hand knowledge.

In February Mexico's federal government reported that poverty increased by about four million people between 2008 and 2012. The country's population is nearing 118 million, 46% of whom (52 million) officially are counted in the ranks of the poor.

President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, who takes office in 20 days, has promised particularly to target the severe pobreza alimentaria which affects many rural Mexicans - poverty so extreme that people search every day for something to feed themselves and their children. Conditions north of the border may make that task difficult (Peña Nieto's biggest challenges will be economy and environment).

In theory Mexico should be able to feed itself. Despite pessimistic predictions for 2012, the year has turned out considerably better than planned. The national economy is steaming along nicely, and this year has grown at about twice the rate as in the United States.

Feb. 20 - Mexico has 14th largest global economy, but citizens rank 81st in food purchasing power
Nov. 16 - Gross economic disparity still a hard fact of Mexican life
Oct. 17 - Ending poverty key focus of incoming PRI government

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