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A Global Grab for Avocados

Touch the Soil News #462 (feature photo – CC4.0)

High in healthy fats and rich in B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium and healthy carotenoids, the avocado is taking a higher profile in global diets. Avocados are grown in Florida and mostly in California (90%). Avocados require frequent deep watering where water is a premium, making them expensive as California water, labor and land are all expensive. The U.S. imports almost as many avocados from Mexico as it produces here at home.

A few years back Mexico, the world’s largest producer of avocados (produces 8 times more than the U.S.), introduced China to avocados. The Chinese are getting it that avocados are a great food. Avocado exports from Mexico to China are increasing by 200 percent a year.

Mexico’s primary growing area for avocados is in the Mexican state of Michoacan which lies on the western coast along the Pacific. Avocados grow well in the mountains of Michoacan where there are pine and fir forests. This place also happens to be the primary wintering grounds of the Monarch butterfly whose habitats, like that of other wildlife, have been dangerously curtailed in favor of human activities. The Monarch migrations to Mexico have been called one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon in the world.

Over wintering monarch butterflies cling to a tree in the Michoacan-region forests. Can they compete against the rising demand for avocados? China holds many of the cards. Its appetite for avocados and palm oil puts pressure on further encroachment on natural habitat – ditto for virtually every other nation.

The need for economic sustenance by Mexican farmers is resulting in encroachment on the forests and habitat of the Monarch butterfly. Eager to expand, farmers plant new avocado plants under pine and fir trees in the Michoacan region. As the plants grow, farmers come back and take out the competing pine and fir trees so the avocado plants can take hold and produce. Even though encroachment in forest areas is often illegal, the financial gain provides incentive for the illegal behavior.

Following is a promotional video clip in Mexican avocados and avocado farming. What do you think?

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