What is the environmental or ecological challenge you are targeting with your solution?:
Mexico is the leading exporter of avocado in the world, accounting for 30.9% of world production. The 85% of the national production of avocado is concentrated in the state of Michoacan. Only in 2015 the value of avocado production in Michoacan amounted to more than 18 billion pesos. However, this economic income has been generated at the cost of considerable environmental damage. With one million hectares deforested, Michoacan occupies the third place at the national level in degradation of its forest. Avocado orchards have been replacing, with worrying speed, what were formerly woods. This increase in the loss of forest cover is a challenge that poses the need not only of economic valuation in the short term, but also weighting the social and environmental impact that will have repercussions in this and future generations. The environmental impact is reflected in the pollution and scarcity of water, soil erosion and degradation, changes in land use and biodiversity loss.
Describe the context in which you are operating:
Uruapan is one of the 113 municipalities of the state of Michoacan. It has an area of 954.17 km2 of which 30.57% is dedicated to agriculture, 4% to livestock and 54.19% is forest. However, this last percentage has decreased due to the indiscriminate planting of avocado. Currently, Uruapan has 14, 300 hectares planted, making it one of the municipalities in Michoacan where more avocado is produced. The deforestation caused in the area is considerable and affects, among other areas, the Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park and the Balsas Hydrological Region, conformed of the Tepalcatepec-Infiernillo River Basin and the Tepalcatepec River Basin. The impact of hydrological basins and soil has considerable impacts on the population and agriculture in the area. In addition, reducing forest cover reduces water absorption levels, and although avocado trees also absorb water, it causes water shortages not only for crops but also for people. Also, due to the use of chemicals for fertilization and pest removal, the basin of both rivers contains very high levels of nitrates. The intensive monoculture of the avocado has caused a consequent degradation of the soil that is detrimental to the productivity of this product and the need to expand to other areas with fertile soils, which in this case, are the forests.