20 Jun 2019 Journal Articles
An article by Christian Häberli published in International Affairs Forum: Food, Water and Security (44-47) June 2019. This IAF journal is a publication of the Center for International Relations, Washington D.C.
“Where is the Problem?
The production of three avocados (1kg) requires one thousand liters of water. No problem if and where rains are abundant – but exports frequently originate in arid areas. It is called “virtual water” when we eat the fruit. But it is real fresh water for which many users are competing, for instance in Apútzio de Juárez (Michoacán, in Mexico, the world’s largest avocado producer by far). Some plantations are causing deforestation, said to imperil one of the most beautiful American butterflies, the monarch, who fly thousands of miles to their winter home in the nearby Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Near Cape Town (South Africa), in 2018, avocado trees were irrigated, even as the mayor of the city counted the days until the whole area would be running out of water. And, while cash crop producers in Ica (Southern Peru) are among the most efficient water users in the world, their hi-tech irrigation is tapped from slowly disappearing ground water. Moreover, their plantation workers live in nearby villages with hardly ever a drop of rain, with poor soil management, and without fresh water irrigation for their food crops. Drinking water is brought by a truck, and it costs four times the price of tap water in Lima. Remuneration is above minimum wages but there are few if any jobs elsewhere.”
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