Your article (Taco alarm bells ring as avocados go out of reach for Mexicans, 7 August) misses the point about what is the nature of the problem and who is responsible. A farm in the west of Mexico that I owned until a few years ago simply could not get its product on the market because the commercialisation is controlled by mafias, including local political organisations whose demands, if not met, lead to crops rotting.
There is much more than enough being produced to meet local and international demand at reasonable prices, but until the producers have direct control over marketing their avocados the system of poorly paid harvesters, high prices for local consumers and the extortion of producers will continue.
Among other things, the commercial and marketing organisations insist on bringing in their own pickers – who are generally very poor people, usually indigenous, from the highlands. Once one deducts the costs of transport, accommodation, etc from their pay they earn below the minimum wage and have no protection and security.
One of the pickers sent to us was ordered at nightfall to cut so close to electrical cables that he was electrocuted. There was no compensation for his family. In fact the team boss harangued the other pickers about the stupidity of indigenous people like themselves and told us that if we interceded we would be blacklisted. He was backed up by local political leaders and other local families terrified by what could happen if we persisted.
In short, the problem has an enormous human dimension, and the only people who gain are those who market the avocados abroad and the political organisations associated with them.
So the next time you eat an avocado of Mexican origin spare a thought for the suffering involved in its production.
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