Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Strengthening rural livelihoods in Guatemala, one avocado at a time

Source: www.frutesa.com
Anyone that has ever dipped a corn chip in guacamole knows just how delicious an avocado can be. Aside of their great taste and rich texture, avocados are jam-packed with vitamins, nutrients and healthy monounsaturated fats. While there are many types of avocados (e.g. Zutano, Choquetee, Hall) that are grown world-wide, most of the avocados consumed in the United States are of the Hass variety. The preference for this variety is due to the fact that Hass avocados can be grown year-around, have a longer shelf life, and contain a nutty flavor that U.S consumers love. In fact, Americans love Hass avocados so much that in 2012 alone they consumed over 810,000 metric tons of them. This volume is roughly three times more of what the United States is able to produce internally, most of which concentrated in the states of California and Florida. Since domestic demand far surpasses domestic production, the U.S must import more than 570,000 metric tons of Hass avocados to satisfy its domestic consumption. As such, much of the Hass avocados consumed in the United States are brought in from Latin American and the Caribbean, mainly from Mexico, Peru, and Chile.

Given the current size of the Hass avocado market in the United States and its future potential for growth, Partners of the Americas’ Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program is actively looking at ways that we can untapped the economic and human capital potential that avocados hold for rural enterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean. As part of our Horticulture Project in Guatemala, we are partnering up with our local host Frutas Tropicales de Guatemala S.A (FRUTESA), in order to support its efforts of commercializing Guatemalan avocados to global markets. In the next coming months, we will be sending a series of Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers to help.

FRUTESA farmers and technicians improve their knowledge and technical skills for producing and harvesting Hass avocados. As part of this work, the volunteer(s) will also lead a series of lectures and technical trainings related to strengthening the quality, safety and phytosanitary standards established by the European and U.S market. Their work will also include various interactive workshops on how to properly clean, sort, package, and transport Hass avocados bound for international markets.

We hope that with F2F support, FRUTESA will have the capacity to keep scaling its avocado export operations and, in turn, support income-generating and skill-building opportunities for the small and medium-sized farms that linked to their growing value chain. We will be sure to keep our readers updated as these efforts in Guatemala take root.

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