Guatemala may not have built up quite the same international reputation for its avocado industry as neighboring Mexico, despite the fruit originating from both countries. But the decision for it to host the next instalment of a major industry event has it thinking bigger.
The Central American country will play host to the next Latin American Avocado Congress to be held in 2021, following on from the event held in Mexico this year and one in Costa Rica in 2013.
Avocado exports from 2012-2016 were between 3,000 and 4,300 metric tons (MT) annually, with Honduras and El Salvador the leading markets by far.
“For Guatemala to be the country to host the next congress is a huge opportunity to continue developing the avocado industry,” Mayan Hass Avocados operations manager Andrés Espinoza told Fresh Fruit Portal.
“It is a great responsibility and we are sure that we will surpass the expectations of our Latin American friends. It means entering onto the international avocado market and starting to be recognized as suppliers of excellent quality fresh fruit.”
He explained that by hosting the event, Guatemala was hoping to further improve its production techniques and per-hectare productivity.
“We are sure that domestic and foreign investment will increase, which will help growers to have more secure and stable markets. It will also help us to develop the avocado industry, and in doing so, seek market access to the U.S., the world’s biggest avocado market,” he said.
“There will be an increase the amount of land dedicated to avocado production as the number of growers increases, and the socioeconomic situation of all those who are involved in the industry will also increase.
“It will contribute to the country’s development, as has been the case in Colombia, for example.”
Espinoza has been one of the leaders working for the resurgence of the avocado industry in Guatemala. He said plant availability has increased in nurseries over the years, and the wider implementation of integrated crop management had increased fruit quality.
Rising farm productivity means volumes produced in the country are expected to grow over the next two or three years, he said, adding he expected new orchards to enter into production in around four or five years.
The Guatemalan avocado industry received a strong state investment 10 years ago, when plants were distributed for free to farmers in regions climatically suited to avocado production. Following this, around 200 hectares of avocado farms were planted every year.