The land of Michoacán, the state that leads the world in avocado production, is being exhausted. “I hope it is not the collapse that makes us understand,” said agronomist Nacho Simón in an interview regarding the massive crops that do not stop growing due to the enormous appetite of the United States.
Yesterday, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers played each other in the LVIII edition of the Super Bowl, the most important game in the NFL football league, and the spectators’ tables were full of guacamole, a dish made from avocado, mostly from Mexico, specifically from the Mexican state of Michoacán.
At the end of the 1990s, the state managed to comply with the requirements of the United States to export avocados to that country and since then the volume has been growing: for this year’s edition of the Super Bowl, Mexican customs estimates that about 110,000 tons will be sent.
As a consequence, Michoacan landscapes have changed radically in recent years. Where there were lush pine forests, now there are endless hectares of avocado plantations; Where there were lakes, now there are barely any puddles left and some have even dried up completely.
Farmers and experts assure that the Michoacán land is supporting too much cultivation and, above all, that the type of orchards, in which deforestation of forests and monoculture abound, contributes to the approach of collapse.
“When the market protection that the United States provided towards California avocado trees began to break down a little, it began to open the border to certain groups in Mexico. They began to adapt to the United States norm, which said ‘Take away citrus, just avocado, take away peaches. (…) Everything here used to be full of forest,” Simón shares from the headquarters of his company, Gaia, a promoter of organic agriculture, located in the municipality of Uruapan.
The engineer explains that, according to United States standards, they want to have clean avocados, without even weeds at the bottom, which is why herbicides are used that end up reaching the subsoil waters.
Added to this is the water depletion due to the qualities of the avocado, which requires thousands of liters to produce just one kilogram, unlike forests, for example, pine, which promotes humidity.
“We demanded water but we ended up with the sponge that brought the water (the forests). It is the contradiction of the human being, it is something that unfortunately we have not learned,” says the agronomy expert.