Avocados are often praised for their nutritional benefits and have become popular worldwide, making them an iconic fruit in the food industry. However, behind this increase in avocado production lies a major environmental problem: the impact of avocado plantations on water.

Global expansion of avocado plantations Avocados are mainly grown in Latin American regions such as Mexico (around 3.4 million tonnes of avocados were produced in Mexico in 2020), Chile, Colombia and Peru. Global demand for this fruit is so great that avocado farms are expanding rapidly to meet growing consumer demandThe avocado’s high water requirements
Avocado growing is notoriously water-hungry. Avocado trees need a lot of water, especially during the growth and fruiting phases.

The need to maintain a constant supply of water to these plantations has a significant impact on local water resources.

Avocados growing on a tree.

Water issues Avocado plantations have several impacts on water resources.

Depletion of groundwater: Intensive irrigation of plantations can lead to the depletion of local groundwater, threatening the water supply of local populations and farmers. Competition with local crops: The expansion of avocado plantations can lead to competition with local food crops for water, which can have an impact on the food security of local communities. Degradation of water quality: Excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides in avocado orchards can lead to water pollution and affect the quality of drinking water and aquatic ecosystems.

Impact on aquatic ecosystems:

Aquatic ecosystems such as rivers and lakes are sensitive to agricultural practices, particularly avocado plantations. Results include : Soil erosion: Deforestation to create avocado plantations can increase soil erosion, which can wash sediment into watercourses and affect aquatic life. b. Water pollution: Chemicals used in avocado plantations can pollute local waterways and have a negative impact on aquatic fauna and biodiversity.

Social impact In addition to environmental concerns:

the water impacts of avocado plantations can also have significant social impacts. Communities, particularly those dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, may be affected by limited access to water and competition for resources.

The global avocado industry has brought economic benefits to many parts of Latin America, but it has also raised significant concerns about environmental and social sustainability. Immediate action is needed to address the impacts of avocado plantations on water, such as groundwater depletion and water pollution. Minimising these impacts while ensuring the protection of aquatic ecosystems and the well-being of local communities requires sustainable farming practices, efficient irrigation methods and strict environmental regulations. It is important that the avocado industry actively advocates greener practices to ensure a sustainable future for this precious fruit.