- Title: MEXICO: Avocado producers in Mexico enjoy a boom in their business
- Date: 16th June 2008
- Summary: AVOCADO PACKING COMPANY WORKER PUTTING BOXES ON MOVING BAND VARIOUS OF AVOCADOS ON MOVING BAND VARIOUS OF WORKERS
- Embargoed: 1st July 2008 13:00
- Location: Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Industry
- Reuters ID: LVA7KSVTMVF1CHASW5VBC1QKVKEQ
- Story Text: The Mexican western state of Michoacan, the largest avocado producer in the world, is thriving by a boom in global avocado demand.
Mexico's western state, Michoacan, enjoys favorable weather conditions - which is cool, rainy with fertile soil - for the plantation of avocado trees. These factors help local producers harvest thousands of tons of avocado and export to the U.S., Japan, Europe and Central America. In 2007 and so far in 2008, 200,000 tons of produce have been exported to the U.S. alone.
Harvest orchards, packing and distribution companies in the region employ thousands of workers, sustaining more than 150,000 families.
In avocado harvesting orchards such as this one, workers fertilize and crop the trees - which are native to Mexico - so that avocados may profit from the suns rays and grow into plump, smooth and glossy green fruits.
Hass avocados, which weigh half-a-pound, have a large seed and plebbly black skin when ripe, are planted here. The only avocado variety produced all-year-round.
At harvest time, local packing companies hire specialized workers, who climb trees up to 10 meters in height. The specialized workers use sacks with knives attached to them and skillfully cut and catch each fruit. The produce is then placed into sacks and boxed to distribute to local packing companies.
The fruit never touches the ground to meet strict sanitary controls set by U.S. agriculture authorities to allow for their exportation.
A high demand in the national market and the soaring consumption of avocado globally keep these orchards productive throughout the year.
This was not the case a few years ago. In 1995 the orchards were abandoned and many workers had to emigrate to the U.S. due to lack of work and low salaries.
The entrance of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 changed all that. The first shipment of avocados was sent to the U.S. in 1996, revitalizing the industry.
"In the last ten years, with exporting towards the U.S. in place, we've seen more investment in orchards. More jobs were created, not only in production but also in packing companies and in commercialization," said the technical manager from the local avocado producers association, Jose De La Luz Sanchez. He has followed the evolution of the industry since the 1960s and has helped dozens of agriculture producers to optimize their orchards.
Avocado Export Company, employs thousands of workers who package the fruit, choosing only the best produce for exportation to diverse markets around the world. Plump and ripe fruit is sent to the U.S., meanwhile greener fruit is sent to Europe and Japan to cover longer transportation periods.
More Mexican farmers are enjoying a boom in their exportation business.
Since 1996, the number of exporting producers has grown from 60 to 3,600 who cultivate 40,000 hectares of orchards and export 6,000 tones of produce each season.
"Undoubtedly it has brought great benefits, both for the packing industry and producers. Before, the only market we had was the Central American, European, Canadian and the national one. Prices could not compare to the ones we currently have. Prices which have been obtained thanks to the U.S.
market," said the founder and director of Avocado Export Company, Miguel Torres Cebrian.
U.S. restrictions on Mexican produce have now dropped and fruit crosses the border all-year-round. Avocado producing states, such as Florida and California, once closed to imports, now allow entry due to high demand.
A greater demand has grown due to countless Mexicans crossing the border, nevertheless this delicious fruit has conquered the palate of many in northern U.S. states, western Europe, Japan and Korea.
The avocado has become the ambassador of Mexican cuisine, which is easier to promote than the chile.
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