Mexico farm leader says security is ‘Achilles heel’ of food supply

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s government needs to ensure safety for farmers, truckers and supermarkets in order to guarantee the food supply even in a worst-case scenario for the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the main agriculture lobby said on Monday.

“The vision of the agro-food industry is in the worst-case scenario we will continue with the supply chain. Due to the latitude and longitude of our country, we have fresh produce all year round and there is sufficient inventory to see this crisis through,” said Bosco de la Vega, head of the National Farm Council (CNA).

“Where we see the Achilles heel is the issue of security,” said de la Vega, who added: “We need the government to ensure the elements of security, and with that, there will be no lack of food in the country.”

Mexicans have been fearful that measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak would lead to widespread looting. Criminals have robbed stores that were closed and posted calls on social media for people to ransack businesses.

The head of the Mexican retailers’ association, ANTAD, said there had been 16 instances of looting, mostly at convenience stores, since March 17.

“In the looting, there have been some electronics (robbed) from specialty stores, there has been theft of liquor, wines. They’re taking advantage. It’s common criminality,” said Vicente Yanez, president of ANTAD.

People are “not looting because they are hungry,” Yanez added.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday that violence among criminal groups had persisted despite the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Mexico registered more murders in March than in any other month of Lopez Obrador’s administration, preliminary figures showed, suggesting that social distancing measures were not enough to curb violence.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Cooney

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