Mexico’s forests are threatened by avocado
For Mexican state of Michoacán avocado’s always been a good business, actually Michoacán is its number one world producer and avocado’s called the “green gold.” Unfortunately, this green gold is causing problems in the region, like illegal deforestation. People are chopping pines to plant avocado trees.
According to PROFEPA almost 20,000 hectares of forest have been cleared out each year for agricultural uses. Between 30%-40% of this deforestation is caused by avocado, (6,000-8,000 hectares).
“Producing avocado isn’t illegal. But producing it by clearing out a forest to set up an avocado plantation is what’s illegal,” says Jaime Nava, member of the GIRA NGO and forestall specialist. Consequences are enormous. Avocados need 10 times more water than pines, they change the configuration of water sources and rise ambient temperature. Also the use of pesticides may be related to new diseases in the region.
Alberto Gómez, biologist specialized in drainage basins, says pesticides may cause renal problems and malformations in fetuses if pregnant women are exposed to them. They may also cause liver problems. He explains this has been observed along the regions where avocado’s planted.
Also, species like the Monarch butterfly may be endangered because they depend on forests like the one in Michoacán for their survival during the winter, although so far these placed haven’t reported any damages.
International demand for avocado has been accelerating this phenomenon. In the last decade exports have been 30 times higher and prices have been on the rise. The US receives as much as 85% of their production. To avoid the growing problem, producers are exploring the use of quality certificates to guarantee a responsible production.
“We need to make sure avocado remains a must in national and international markets, but that it is also an eco-friendly product,” told AFP Ricardo Luna, Environment Secretary of Michoacán. According to Luna, Mexican economy receives about 17,000 million pesos each year.