José Armando Lopez Orduña
CEO
Asociación de Productores y Empacadores Exportadores de Aguacate de México, Asociación Civil, (APEAM, A.C.)
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Expert Contributor

Upholding Responsible Avocado Production in Michoacan

By José Armando Lopez Orduña | Thu, 05/12/2022 - 09:00

International Earth Day was celebrated on April 22 with the resolution to raise awareness about the global challenges we face as human beings when thinking about the production processes within our economy.

Looking to the future, sustainable agriculture is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, ahead of the climate change crisis, and constitutes a fundamental step toward achieving the objective of Zero Hunger, which is the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of the United Nations Agenda for 2030. In APEAM’s segment, the production and export of avocados, we contribute to the healthy diet of the population and it is our duty to do so responsibly.

APEAM is the only Mexican cooperative that is a partner to the US, as well as the US Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, for the export of avocados from Mexico, generating more than 380,000 jobs in Mexico and more than 30,000 in the US. Hence, one of our missions is to maintain leadership with a top-quality product and in the greatest harmony with our ecosystems.

According to the UN Environment Program, “economic, financial and production systems can and must be transformed to lead and drive change toward sustainability. Society must include natural capital in decision-making.” APEAM assumes this commitment and works to achieve it.

Mexico is listed as one of the most important countries in the world for production of crops for export, with the US being its main market (covering 84 percent). Contributing to this achievement is the state of Michoacan, located in the western center of the country.

In 2020, Michoacan became the largest global exporter of agri-food products, according to the World Trade Organization, with avocado ranking second among them. Furthermore, as of week 17 of the current 2021-2022 season, Michoacan exporting producers and packers shipped more than 813,297 tons of the fruit to the US.

That same year, we became the first agricultural association to join the Global Compact Network Mexico, that oversees the application of the UN SDGs. Committed to sustainable practices, our industry depends on the conservation of the natural environment, soil, forests and water, as well as the economic security of the communities where it operates. These make up a fundamental pillar for the APEAM.

Michoacan is among the five states in Mexico with the largest forest coverage and biological diversity. The avocado strip in Michoacan covers 43 municipalities and is located in a forest zone; however, the orchard area represents less than 2.5 percent of the entire state. Most of these are small extensions: 67 percent occupy less than 10 hectares and another 25 percent are between 10 and 30 hectares. These surfaces are managed, almost entirely, by local producers whose families have depended on them for generations and their maintenance depends on their preservation.

Although the avocado strip develops in a favorable environment, our responsibility at the APEAM toward natural resources is part of our Strategic Sustainability Plan. Since 2011, we have had a conservation program that seeks to strengthen the natural biodiversity of Michoacan.

Since the beginning of this program, we have planted more than 2.2 million trees in Michoacan, helping to mitigate the effects of unsustainable logging practices and restoring the area's natural ecosystems and biodiversity. More than 1,720 hectares have been replanted with various species native to the area, where they are planted according to elevation and terrain to obtain a survival rate of 85 percent.

In 2021, we delivered a total of 372,000 trees to producers (243,700), societies and municipalities (87,000) and packers (41,300) for reforestation, mainly of the straight pine (Devoniana Lindley michoacana) and white pine (Pseudostrobus Lindl) species.

With the reforestation carried out, the following achievements have occurred: the replenishing of aquifers in the area (for example, the Cupatitzio River, which provides around 70 percent of the freshwater in the city of Uruapan) and the implementation of irrigation systems in avocado orchards that seek to take advantage of hydraulic resources with maximum efficiency, thus reducing their waste so that they can be used for other purposes.

In commemoration of International Earth Day the first to occur within the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration at APEAM we reaffirmed our commitment to protect the natural ecosystem of avocado-growing areas and we firmly assume the responsibility to give back to the Earth what it gives us and to preserve the ecological treasures that characterize Michoacan. We will continue to protect the region's environment as its brave guardians.

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