I visited two different states: Jalisco, in West Central Mexico, and Chiapas, Mexico's Southernmost state. Chiapas is substantially poorer than Jalisco and different in other response as well. I visited one municipality in Jalisco, Cuquio, which was located in the mountains in a subtropical zone. In Chiapas, I traveled all over the state, beginning in San Cristobal de las Casas in the highlands, where you will find cool weather and pine forests, traveling to Palenque in the lowlands, where you will find rainforest if you can locate some that hasn't been cut down yet.
Land Use in Chiapas
From what I observed, there's an awful lot of cattle pasture where there probably ought to be rainforest. This could be better represented by examining land use in only the lowland areas that were originally jungle.
Main Farm Activity
I've focused almost solely on crops instead of livestock here. Here's why I did that:
|Gathering Wild Products||0.1%||0.1%||< 0.1%||0%|
In this question, farms and forestry operations were asked about their main activity, even if they do more than one. A normal farm might spend most of their time and obtain most of their food by growing corn, beans, and squash and maybe a few other things (tomatoes, herbs, peppers, fruit trees) but they might also have some chickens, turkeys, ducks, and maybe something larger like a donkey or even a cow. And they might gather some wild foods or herbal medicines as well. But in this table, they would be counted as agriculture, not livestock or gathering.
The lowlands of Chiapas can grow 2 corn crops per year, whereas the highlands grow only one. The area I visited in Jalisco grows only one corn crop as well. Thus, I chose to ignore the fall and winter and focus on spring and summer crops only. The biggest omission as a result is that there is some sesame and oats grown in Chiapas during the winter that don't appear on the graphs. Also, the significance of sorghum is that it was introduced as a crop for livestock feed during the Green Revolution.
Summer Crops in Chiapas
Summer Crops in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas (Highlands)
Summer Crops in Palenque, Chiapas (Tropical Lowlands)
Summer Crops in Cuquio
Note: Agave grown in Jalisco is for tequila.
Average Farm Size
Mexico: 16.8 hectares
Chiapas: 7.5 hectares
Jalisco: 20.9 hectares
Cuquio: 14.8 hectares
I believe much of Mexico's irrigated land is concentrated in the northern states. This is likely for two reasons: first, they have less rainfall and more need for irrigation; and second, they tend to have more large agribusiness operations.
Percent of Farms with Some Irrigation
Percent of Agricultural Land Without Irrigation
Type of Traction
A major difference between the two places in Mexico I visited is the percent of farmers who use tractors or animal traction versus those who use manual labor alone. Check it out:
|Only Mechanical Traction||30.4%||10.7%||58.6%||59.4%|
|Only Animal Traction||17.1%||3.1%||8.2%||21.3%|
|Only hand tools||33.7%||74.3%||21.1%||7.5%|
Of Those Who Use a Tractor, What Percent Rents vs. Owns the Tractor?
Group refers to group ownership of a tractor.
|Group||0.2%||< 0.1%||< 0.1%||0%|
Mexico measures how many farmers are "technology" users. You can tell they have a bias toward what constitutes "technology" as intercropping or other sophisticated agroecological methods are not included on their list. The following table shows the percent of farmers who use any technology at all first, followed by how many use each technology. The first column shows the entire country, followed by the two states I visited, and last, the municipality I visited in Jalisco (Cuquio).
|Other Technology||0.1%||< 0.1%||< 0.1%||0%|
Farmers with Credit or Insurance
Sources of Farmer Income
The following table shows what percent of farmers receive money from agriculture, government support, friends or relatives abroad, or other sources. Other sources could be an off-the-farm job (one woman I met had a daughter working in a shoe factory) or selling handicrafts, a common practice I observed in Chiapas. The lack of government support in Chiapas should not be taken as indicative of a lack of need. Zapatistas reject all forms of government help or intervention, so the low percent of farmers receiving government aid should be seen as a mark of Zapatista strength.
Who sends money from abroad?
This one is interesting, mostly because of the difference between places in how many spouses vs. children send money home. Being a parent with a grown child is in the U.S. is far preferable to being a wife with a husband in the U.S. (or vice versa). The data here is of a sub-set of the population. Of the people who receive money from abroad, here is the percent that receives money from each of the following family members:
Farmers by Sex
Farmers' Education Level
Here's a pie chart that shows the highest level of education of farmers in all of Mexico:
The numbers for each of the places I visited are not substantially different from Mexico as a whole.
|At Least Some Education||72.8%||68.3%||77.3%||75.7%|
|Less than Primary||0.8%||0.8%||1%||0.8%|
Farmers' Living Conditions
The next table shows farmers' living conditions. I am fairly certain that the reference to the floor means "anything but a dirt floor" and the reference to walls means "anything other than adobe." I met plenty of people without most of the items on this list, the exception being electricity. The electricity might be limited or unreliable and in many cases they only got it within the last 20 years, but I believe every family I visited had electricity. Also, note that hot water is not on the list. I don't think many people have that. Nor do many have potable water. Last, the gas for cooking is very important, not only because it means you don't have to chop or buy firewood and spend time building fires, but it also means you don't have to breathe in smoke, which is very bad for you.
|Sewer or Septic Tank||58.4%||54.9%||90.7%||85.6%|
|Gas for Cooking||59.5%||27.3%||87.4%||94.7%|
|Toilet, Latrine or Cesspool||72.7%||62.7%||78.4%||74.6%|
|Cement or Wood Floor||81.1%||71.6%||92%||95%|
|Masonry or Brick Walls||78.7%||70.2%||90.6%||95.5%|
Family Help on the Farm
Many farms are family operations, and even the kids sometimes help. Here's a breakdown of the age and sex of family help on the farm. And I believe this excludes the actual farmer and just counts the farmers' family who helps on the farm.
|Boys Under 12||3.9%||6.2%||4%||5%|
|Girls Under 12||2.4%||4.5%||1.9%||2.3%|
|Men Over 60||1.6%||1.1%||1.9%||0.9%|
|Women Over 60||1.1%||0.7%||0.7%||0.5%|
Percent of Farmers Who Speak an Indigenous Language
Note that this measures how many speak an indigenous language, not how many have indigenous ancestry. Also, because of the Zapatista quest for autonomy from the Mexican government, you have to wonder how many of them actually responded to the 2007 Ag Census. And if that's the case, then the percent of farmers who speak an indigenous language in Chiapas might be understated here.
Hope you've enjoyed this look at Mexico by its statistics. My next project will be to dig into regular census data about poverty to see what's been happening over time in these two different areas. Are the purchased farm inputs getting people out of poverty in Jalisco or no? And how is the lack of those things impacting poverty in Chiapas?