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Latino Daily News

Thursday April 14, 2011

Mexican Lime Farmers Fight to Keep Business Going Despite Cartel Interference

Mexican Lime Farmers Fight to Keep Business Going Despite Cartel Interference

Photo: Mexican lime farmers atre forced to pay cartels

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Though the most devastating effect of the drug war in Mexico has been the loss of so many lives, there are many other related issues that plague the region.

In fact, local drugs traffickers have invaded the lives of lime farmers now, and require some to pay as much as 800 pesos for every truckload of the citrus they ship from the heated state of Michoacán. (800 pesos is about $66)

Due to war, bad weather, and now the constant drug battles, the price of limes at markets in Mexico City almost quadrupled in December and January. Gangs set market prices and restrict harvests to limit the supply.

“We feel like someone else controls our lives,” said Tania Tamayo. “But you have to learn to live like this.”

Tamayo is from a family of lime farmers, and though the price of the fruit has gone down in the last few months, the price of avocados has now gone up, and avocado farmers are feeling the same pinch.

TheChristian Science Monitor was reportedly told by an avocado distributor that drug traffickers have started to target Michoacán’s avocado farmers, which is driving up the prices.

At times, the drug cartels are not directly interfering with farmers’ supply, but due to the violence, border inspections are more thorough and in turn, take more time, causing trips to take longer and produce to the U.S. to decrease. “There are security costs that companies have had to absorb,” admitted Beatriz Léycegui, deputy minister at Mexico’s Economy Ministry.

As prices on various food products increase, theft is increasing as well. In fact, cargo theft increased by 50 percent between 2009 and 2010, said the director general of the National Cargo Shipping Chamber, Refugio Muñoz Lopez.

And though the violence continues, farmers and market sellers still need to make a living, and are doing what they can to hold it all together. In the end, said Tamayo, “All packing companies pay the money.”