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Avocados are threatened by extreme climate conditions

In recent years, avocados have become synonymous with modern eating habits, especially popular among millennials who frequent trendy cafés. However, this beloved fruit faces an imminent threat due to the worsening climate crisis.

Recent research predicts a significant decline in the world’s prime avocado-growing regions, with projections showing up to a 41% reduction by 2050.

The culprit? An increasingly hotter, drier climate, which poses a serious challenge to avocado cultivation.

The vulnerability of avocados

Avocados, often hailed as a superfood, require substantial amounts of water to thrive. This characteristic renders them particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change.

According to the report titled “Getting Smashed: The climate danger facing avocados” released by Christian Aid, if global warming continues unchecked, the suitable areas for growing this fruit could decrease dramatically.

“Avocados might be a superfood but their kryptonite is climate change. They are thirsty plants that are ill-suited to a hotter, drought-prone planet,” said Mariana Paoli, Global Advocacy Lead at Christian Aid.

Global impact of declining avocado production

The decline in avocado production extends beyond just affecting enthusiasts of guacamole or avocado toast; it has significant global implications. As the seventh-largest importer of avocado crops, the UK exemplifies the fruit’s importance on an international scale.

Avocados, rich in nutrients and healthy fats, form an essential component of diets worldwide. Moreover, ongoing research points to potential health benefits, including avocados’ properties against diseases such as cancer.

Yet, the anticipated conditions of extreme heat and prolonged drought threaten the ability of avocado trees to thrive and produce fruit effectively.

Some regions will be hit harder than others

Specific regions are expected to suffer more than others. For example, Michoacán, a pivotal avocado-growing area in Mexico, might see its production capacity plummet by 59% by 2050, even if global temperature increases stay below 2°Celsius.

This region, like others, has experienced significant land clearance to meet the soaring demand, primarily from the US. Currently, Mexico leads the global avocado market, but the future seems uncertain with these climatic challenges.

The response and the call for action

The report not only highlights the challenges faced due to climate change but also urges actionable responses. It calls for stronger support for farmers and emphasizes the urgency of reducing emissions.

Transitioning from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources is identified as a critical step in mitigating these adverse effects.

Beyond their environmental impact, avocados have also sparked significant cultural debate. In Australia, they became a symbol of generational economic discussions after millionaire Tim Gurner controversially linked millennials’ penchant for avocado toast with their struggles in achieving home ownership in 2017.

The future of avocado farming

As the situation evolves, it’s clear that both producers and consumers face a challenging future. With prices likely to rise due to scarcity, significant shifts in the global market are anticipated.

Accordingly, the report urges wealthier nations to take robust actions to reduce their emissions and transition to cleaner energy solutions. These measures are crucial not just for those who enjoy this fruit, but for the global community reliant on such vital crops.

Ultimately, the steps we take now could determine their availability and affordability for generations to come.

The plight of avocado farmers

Jolis Bigirimana, who leads Farmer’s Pride in Burundi, described the dire circumstances faced by avocado farmers.

‘We are experiencing hot temperatures, heavy rain, and erosion which is having a terrible impact on farmers’ productivity and their income. We only have a very short period of rainfall here in Burundi and during that period avocado growers used to water their plants,” said Bigirimana.

“But because of climate change the weather is now more extreme and this has affected our productivity. It now costs us a lot of money to water our crops which has affected our income and is a threat to our livelihoods.”

“We need to see richer, polluting countries to cut their carbon emissions which is driving this extreme weather and also provide climate finance to help us adapt to the changing climate.”


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