The global Avocado market is growing. The expected market growth until 2025 is estimated at 2.8% and is predicted to reach $ 644.7 million, rising from $ 576.8 million in 2019. The growth is taking such pace that even Mexican cartels are seeking to control the fruit trade as four of Mexico’s cartels are fighting for supremacy.
Avocado, also known as “the alligator pear” and “green gold”, has a wide range of uses: from guacamole to avocado toast, avocado salad, avocado ice cream or avocado oil. Avocados also have very interesting properties and benefits that are recognized and used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
Challenges in Avocado Production
But growing avocado has its drawbacks as the avocados are grown as single-crops. Meaning that the same crop is being grown for many years depleting the soil and taking away most of its mineral properties. According to research, avocado production consumes huge amounts of water, 1981 m3/ton, meaning that avocado has a strong impact on water supplies as well.
As avocado trees are perennial crops that are mostly grown in arid and semi-arid areas, they require a year-round water supply. According to Chile’s official government statistic, a kilogram of avocado consumes 389 liters of water on average. Avocado is a significant part of the Chilean economy and avocado growers have taken on the challenge to innovate. In September 2019, a delegation from the Avocado Committee - led by Francisco Contardo-Sfeir, the general manager of the union, participated in the IX World Avocado Congress held in Medellin, a city in Colombia. The congress offered participants an opportunity to share their knowledge and collaboratively address the common challenges and problems they were facing. As the result of these workshops, a number of successful case presentations in scientific research and innovative experiences were shared.
Innovations in Avocado Production
With such challenges in harvesting avocado, and with such popularity in the fruit, farmers are looking for innovative solutions to help them in their production of this superfood.
There is a range of different water efficiency innovations. The most notable is the plastic mulch (protective cover) to perfect evapotranspiration as well as a new drip irrigation system - a system that is more efficient and direct without the water eroding the earth. There are also experiments with glass roofs to “reuse” evapotranspiration of the trees and see what the effects will be. “These three projects are helping us in the pursuit of better efficiency and less water use, and this is continuing our long-term campaign to be as sustainable as possible,” says Francisco Contardo-Sfeir, the general manager of Chile’s Hass Avocado Committee.
Another innovative approach comes from Aqua-4D’s and its proprietary technology, with a proven increase in growth and significant results in water-saving of up to 30%. The Aqua4D is a technology patented in the early 2000s and it treats the water with electromagnetic signals. These signals are low-level, non-invasive signals and they affect the structure of the water and its surface tension, resulting in the molecules of water along with the minerals within being rearranged. The soil and the plants are affected at the molecular level so when the water molecules are broken down into smaller components they are able to infiltrate more easily into the soil. It’s called the capillary effect and it resulted in better water retention, meaning that the plant can absorb just the right amount of water.
Water scarcity is currently one of the world’s biggest concerns and, with climate change, the problem continues to grow larger. Today, there is an intense focus on how to limit the unnecessary consumption of valuable resources and how to encourage water efficiency. We’ve seen a lot of successful solutions so far, but let’s not settle just yet.
Aiming to bring more of these useful innovations to the fields will make a good foundation to protect our planet along with avocados and other flora and fauna. Creating a link across technology, institutions and policies can really help us achieve further improvements in the area of sustainable agricultural water use and increase our water-use efficiency.