Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Profile of Cuquio, Jalisco, Mexico

In my rather disorganized and haphazard research in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Mexico, I found some fascinating information on the exact city I'm visiting, Cuquio. Cuquio is in the state of Jalisco, not far from Guadalajara. The statistics I found are all about 15-20 years old. That means it's a picture of what life was like in Cuquio around the time NAFTA went into effect.

As you can tell from the numbers (below), the majority of farms are small (about 57 acres on average) and nearly all grew corn and beans when NAFTA was passed. The people in this area are poor and not terribly well educated, although they are by no means the poorest or the least literate part of Mexico. Many don't have indoor plumbing, but a higher percentage do compared to some parts of Mexico. The infrastructure (at least, as of 10 years ago when the report I'm referring to was published) is sorely lacking, and the environment is already suffering from the impacts of pesticides and fertilizers. Jalisco is a top corn producing state in Mexico and it's also a top pesticide user.

The People
Population in 1995: 17,034
Infant Mortality: 3.7%
Overcrowded Housing: 58%
Dwellings without Piped Water: 54%
Without Connection to Sewer System (as of 1995): 49%
Illiteracy Rate: 18%
Persons per Medical Doctor (as of 1994): 2496
People Over Age 15 without Schooling: 23%
People Over Age 15 with Incomplete Primary Education: 39%
Indigenous Population: 0%
Self-Employed Workers: 53%
Percent Without Income: 28%
Percent with Income Less than Minimum Wage: 25%
Percent with Income 2-5x Minimum Wage: 34%

The Farms
Total Surface: 52,975 hectares (130,904 acres)
Number of Production Units: 2,278
Percent of Productive Surface Cultivated in Grow Corn & Beans (as of 1991): 99%
Irrigation: 9%
Percent that Use "Technology" (as of 1991): 77%
(That is, one or more of the following: improved seeds, fertilizer, or pesticides)
Units Selling Produce in Market: 70%
Unites Selling Livestock in Market: 49%
Percent that Obtained Credit: 7%

The Environment
Altitude: 1790m (5873 ft) above sea level
Climate: Semi hot sub-humid. Min temp 7C (44F), Max temp 38C (100F)
Precipitation: 750 mm to 1,060mm (29.5" to 41.7")
Vegetation: Pine and oak forests, subtropical rain forest. Shrubs and grasslands.
Infrastructure: There's a dam in Cuquio with insufficient capacity and dangerously low levels of maintenance leading up to 2000 (when the report I read was written). Insufficient network of dirt roads. Difficult passage in rainy season (summer).
Main Environment Problems: Soil pollution by accumulation of chemical residues from pesticides, and soil depletion by excessive use of fertilizers. Deforestation from excessive felling of trees to build fences and from forest fires that destroy a significant amount of woody areas. Soil erosion is important due to lack of conservation in tillage practices (no minimum or zero tillage in region) and lack of adequate contour plowing. Moderate fall in water table depth.

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