Agave Production Leads to Social Unrest
From Science Daily, we find out that your alcohol consumption has contributed to the loss of traditional living in Mexico. How do you feel about that?
(T)equila’s surge in popularity over the past 15 years has been a boon for industry, but is triggering a significant hangover of social and environmental problems in the region of Mexico where the once-notorious liquor (distilled from the blue agave plant) is produced….
more after the break….
But a series of factors, including pest and disease infestations and the fact that it takes at least six years for a blue agave plant to progress from planting to harvest, have contributed to significant instabilities in the supply of agave. The supply problems, coupled with a surge in demand, have resulted in companies planting their own agave – rather than relying on independent farmers. This also means that agave is now being grown in areas that are within the tequila GI “zone,” but that have not previously been used for agave cultivation. These changes have contributed to a loss of traditional farming practices, such as the practice of pruning agave plants to control for pests. Instead, there has been a significant increase in the use of pesticides and other chemicals.
“Many of these changes are marginalizing independent agave farmers and workers,” Bowen says, “undermining the social foundation of the region that relies on the agave and tequila industries.” Furthermore, the study shows that the norms that define tequila production do little to preserve traditional tequila production methods. As a result, the social and environmental resources in the Amatitán-Tequila Valley, where tequila production originated over 400 years ago, are under threat.