Most of the area planted with avocado in Morelia lacks the change of land use permit required by the environmental sector authorities, acknowledged Alfonso Martinez Alcazar, the municipal president of the state capital.
He said that Morelia's avocado production was relatively young, as its orchards have been installed in the last 10 years. As a result only 650 hectares of the estimated one thousand hectares established with the crop in the city produce fruits.
This implies that most of this area cultivated with avocados was installed without obtaining the change of land use permit issued by the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), which places it within the limits of the illegal.
Martinez Alcazar said the issue of the expansion of avocado orchards in areas with a forestry and preferably forestry vocation also affected several municipalities in Michoacan. He also said they would seek to implement strategies to support the orchards that were already operating, without implying their expansion at the expense of wooded areas, and to avoid deforestation by replacing forests with avocado crops.
Thus, the policy of the municipality of Morelia regarding the expansion of the avocado frontier, will be divided into two main aspects, consisting of support to entrepreneurs and farmers who already have installed crops so they can enter high value markets and can achieve competitive prices, on a par with the fruit production that is obtained in Ario, Uruapan or Periban.
This support would be conditional on the avocado producers' obligation to participate in the annual reforestation campaigns organized by the public administration, in order to compensate for the damage caused by the setting of avocado producing orchards and to promote the recovery of forest ecosystems.
At the same time, authorities will be very "strict" with the installation of new orchards to guarantee that they are not placed in forest areas, but in the places destined to the agricultural production or in the areas authorized by the Semarnat.
Martinez Alcazar said that even though the competitive prices achieved by the fruit were an incentive for producers and forest owners to convert forest areas into avocado orchards, "nature claims what you take away from it." The environmental cost of forest reduction through conversion to fruit production areas includes a reduction in the supply of drinking water and ecosystem consumption, loss of soils, a higher prevalence of severe flooding and flooding, as well as a decrease in the quality of the air; effects that are already affecting the capital of the state and that need to be fought.