In name only: Water policy, the state, and ejidatario producers in northern Mexico
AuthorWilder, Margaret O.
AdvisorLiverman, Diana M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation constructs a political ecology of two modern irrigation communities in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. In assessing the impacts of the 1992 restructuring of Mexico's water policy, the study contributes to debates within geography about global economic integration, the transformation of the state-society relationship, the interface of ecological change with structural and political demands, and the prescription of decentralization, privatization, and free trade strategies for improving water management in developing countries. The dissertation investigates these questions: How have the restructuring of water and agricultural policy impacted local producers in irrigation districts in Sonora? How have small communal producers (e.g., ejidatarios) responded to the water reform package? An underlying assumption is that Sonoran producers in irrigation districts are among the nation's most-advantaged, given their proximity to U.S. markets, access to irrigation, technological package, and experience with commercial production. Mexico's water and agriculture policies are intended to allow the strongest, most efficient producers to become more competitive. I argue, however, that the water and agricultural reform package overall does not benefit Sonoran producers, and particularly disadvantages the ejidatario sector of farmers, due to a cost squeeze driven by rising water and input costs, retrenchment of state support, and loss of subsidies, among other factors. Most ejidatario producers have abandoned production and their water and land assets are being privatized. Despite this overall finding, some ejidatarios have found entrepreneurial ways to adapt their productive responses to the new challenges. The global-local linkages in the districts demonstrate that different free trade agreements can have distinct impacts on producers of different crops and transnational companies can pose challenges to water-strapped local communities. The prolonged drought has contributed to a water shortage that limits profitability of agriculture. The state's promotion of water consumptive, export crops is at odds with the demands of nature that dictate less intensive agriculture in arid regions like Sonora, with implications for the sustainability of commercial agriculture. A concept of water as a social good---rather than a purely economic good---needs to be resuscitated in order to satisfy the rural development needs of Mexico's ejidatario producers.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Geography and Regional Development