MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Agriculture Department said Tuesday it has reached agreement with U.S. authorities on a working plan to allow avocados from a second Mexican state to be exported to the United States.
For almost 25 years, Mexico has been allowed to export avocados only from one western Mexico state, Michoacan.
Only Michoacan avocados were allowed because orchard owners there were able to certify under an agreement reached in 1997 that their fruit was free from pests like avocado seed weevils or fruit flies. Those orchards are also subject to compliance checks by U.S. inspectors.
The department said a similar deal has now been reached that could allow avocados from the neighboring state of Jalisco, to the north, to be exported to the U.S. as soon as 2022.
The United States is strict about such imports in order to protect U.S. avocado growers from damaging pests and fungi. Domestic U.S. production is complemented by imports because of the different harvest seasons in the two countries.
The department said it hopes to begin work soon with two other avocado-producing states — Nayarit to the west and Mexico State to the east — to gain approval for exports of their avocados.
The impact for Mexican avocado growers could be enormous.
Michoacan orchard owners are worried that competition from Jalisco might eat into the healthy incomes they earn from avocado growing.
The crop has been a boon to the state’s farmers — mostly small producers with a few acres of trees — because the relatively high price of avocados has pulled many from poverty and allowed others to send their children to college.
Few other crops in Mexico can guarantee small landholders a decent income like avocados can. For a few years, coffee and even cacao plantations, which produce chocolate, were touted as miracle crops, but both were hit by plant diseases or pests in Mexico.
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