Avocado Cultivation in Peru

Native to Mexico where it has been used by local people for thousands of years, the avocado tree has a large number of varieties found throughout Latin America.  The fruit is a staple of local diets, ripening only after the fruits are detached from their stems, a characteristic known as ‘climacteric.’  Bananas are another well-known climacteric fruit.

In Peru, farmers typically cultivate the avocado in small plantations and harvest essentially two varieties of the fruit (Fuerte and Hass) twice per year.  Because the two varieties do not mature at the same time, farmers are able to access fruit for much of the year. Harvesting is exclusively done by hand using a long pole pruner with a bag attached to its end.  Collection is often done by men, while women are more frequently in charge of pollination work on other fruits trees on their plots of land. In small Peruvian farms crop diversification is encouraged; mango and passion fruit grows alongside the avocado, together with vegetables and maize, allowing for income diversification and guaranteeing a food source for these families.

Farmers are using an ancestral irrigation system that has no impact on water quantity and quality for the local population.  Avocado cultivation can be helpful in areas that need reforestation such as in the foothills of the Amazon and Andes mountains.  By planting shade trees throughout the avocado farms, local families are contributing to reducing soil erosion and protecting biodiversity. 

Avocado harvesting is done by hand in shaded farms

Avocado harvesting is done by hand in shaded farms

Lara Koritzke