Five million Mexican nationals working in the agricultural fields of the U.S. and Canada. Inhabitants of Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Veracruz seek to work as day laborers in Sinaloa, Baja California, and Jalisco because they live in extreme poverty. In the last five years, agro-exports have allowed a surplus of 12 billion dollars in the trade balance. In the past, a minimum of 35 cans of the product was required, today 100 cans are required.

With the establishment of fixed salaries for farm workers and the granting of legal benefits, agricultural production for export is the engine of rural change, although it does not represent the totality of crops in the country, as it is concentrated in only a few entities, agreed experts gathered at the University Seminar on the Social Question of the UNAM.

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this academic activity, the talk "Agricultural work and social change in rural Mexico. Perspective after 20 years", offered by Agustín Escobar Latapí and Mercedes González de la Rocha, researchers from the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS) who shared the results of their work with agricultural producers of berries, cucumber, and avocado.

Escobar Latapí commented: "Agricultural production for export is the engine of rural change at the moment. However, there is a significant trend towards monoculture or reduction of diversity in most export areas and this has costs. Subsistence is becoming increasingly difficult based on own cultivation in export zones, there is an internal rural-rural migration, which is revitalized with this agricultural growth".

Accompanied by Enrique Provencio, from the University Program for Development Studies (PUED), he emphasized: if there is a Mexican group that exemplifies the inequality and exclusion of which Mexican society has been capable, it is that of the day laborers.

From 1930 to 2000, the processes of rural-urban migration and migration to the United States led to the creation of a series of programs that tried to retain peasants, which were relatively successful until 1970. But by the end of the 1980s, the system no longer worked, and the political decision was to eliminate it and liberalize conditions.

Probably the worst period of depopulation was the turn of the century, from 1995 to 2005, when there was stagnant production and significant migration of communities to the U.S. and Mexico City. But in 2007 a substantial process accelerated: exports. Currently, the day laborer population includes approximately 5.5 million people among employees, those who work with their parents, and salaried workers: two million in the United States and three million in Canada, the rest migrate to the interior of Mexico.

This led to fundamental changes in the labor field because there was a change in the wage structure of the Mexican agricultural worker population and although in 2011 it decreased due to deportations from the US, their income went up again thanks to the growth of agriculture and a series of organizations and institutional changes. In recent times, production increased, there is repopulation of certain places, at the same time migration from the south to the western and northwestern areas produces irregular and precarious urban growth, with destination places, environmental conditions in some cases really difficult.

"The big change of the last three years is the substantial reduction of state subsidies to producers, but a part of that reduction was taken to the day laborers in ties because they closed daycare centers, they stopped paying for infrastructure, agreements with employers were invalidated, then there has been an important change Are those same programs needed? No, we should take advantage of them to improve them, but the day laborers do need support and there is no doubt about that", emphasized Escobar Latapí.

González de la Rocha, a collaborator of the CIESAS expert, added that the above reflections arise from a review of the agricultural situation in Jalisco: Zapotlán el Grande and Sayula, producer of the fruits called berries, which governs the regional dynamics; in the Culiacán River Valley (Culiacán and Navolato, Sinaloa) with tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, and eggplant crops; in addition to the Baja California Coast, in San Quintín and Maneadero, producer of strawberry, tomato, blackberry, and blueberry.

His work shows that peasants from Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Veracruz try to insert themselves as day laborers in Sinaloa, Baja California, and Jalisco because they live in extreme poverty, but here they could earn a salary and have some of the benefits of the law.

Regarding the social programs and services that reach them, the researcher explained that "the absence of a protective or beneficent State, or at least the absence of a State that says it will provide, is very noticeable here. IMSS fees are paid but the doctors are busy or the services are very bad. They pay for daycare services that have not existed for a long time, there are a series of things that the welfare State is limping on and it is very hard".

Meanwhile, PUED collaborator and former FAO director for Latin America and expert in food security, Margarita Flores, said that in the last five years agro-exports have allowed a surplus of 12 billion dollars in the trade balance, which means that it is growing by leaps and bounds and is a driving force for agriculture.

"The fields look wonderful, but when you have producers of 600 hectares with little care in protecting the environment, serious thought should be given to how to conserve the resource they have to produce because monoculture will end up destroying the goose that lays the golden eggs," said the economist and doctor in Economic and Social Development.

María Antonieta Barrón, professor at UNAM's School of Economics since 1971, commented: "There is a period where agricultural day laborers can earn up to three thousand or more a week, but after that, it all blurs. The wage increase has to do with the intensification of the workday. When I started, day laborers were asked for a minimum of 35 cans (of product), today they are at 100 cans".