Avocado farmers in Mexico increasingly use plant-friendly chemicals in the growing process, according to industry proponents.
With sustainability top of mind during Earth Month, the Avocado Institute of Mexico is reinforcing its biodiversity efforts. The organization, along with its parent groups, the Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM) and the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association (MHAIA), recently mapped out steps that the Mexican avocado industry is taking to conserve local forests and protect natural resources.
“We need a healthy planet with lush forests and happy pollinators to continue growing the freshest avocados in the world, so it’s vital that sustainability is central to our strategy,” said Ana Ambrosi, director of corporate communications at Irving, Texas-based Avocados From Mexico. “For the Avocado Institute, Earth Day is more than a one-day celebration of sustainability. It’s an annual reminder of the importance of prioritizing our environment all year long.”
During a recent webinar, Ambrosi shared details about the ways that growers and suppliers are prioritizing the environment. Starting at the beginning of the avocado food chain, protecting pollinators has become a key goal. According to Ambrosi, 30% of avocado orchards in the growing area of Michoacán have invested in on-site beehives or work with local beekeepers to intentionally increase the presence of these pollinators. In addition, MHAIA partnered with Dedham, Mass.-based Forests for Monarchs to plant 1.2 million trees in the region to protect the habitats of native pollinators monarch butterflies, she noted.
Forest preservation is another cornerstone of the Mexican avocado industry's perennial commitment to sustainability. The Avocado Institute cited programs that aim to preserve more than 1.3 million acres of the “Avocado Strip” in the Michoacán area, as well as its reforestation work that resulted in the planting of nearly 2.9 million trees.
A third prong of the industry’s sustainability initiatives relates to responsible agricultural practices on farms. “Where most avocados come from is characterized by volcanic soil, a lot of rain, and a rich environment, so we want to be sure we have avocado production practices that are responsible and environmentally friendly,” Ambrosi noted. She pointed out that farmers use agrochemicals that are friendly to plants and flowers and only apply them during the times of day when pollinators aren't active. Another important practice is the use of rainfall and natural, seasonal irrigation in about 61% of the avocado orchards in Michoacán. Another 36% of farmers use sustainable high-tech irrigation such as drip irrigation and micro-sprinkling, according to the institute.
To share its sustainability commitment with those throughout the farm-to-table chain, the avocado groups have created a new educational video that maps out collaborative measures and results.