Ecosystem degradation and depletion from industrial agriculture - particularly evident in the northern part of Guanajuato. Fifty percent of that central Mexican state’s overexploited 2,500 water wells - is a primary concern for growers, who stress the importance of developing agricultural systems capable of taking into account the environmental challenges.
“New technological advances in the area of protected agriculture, as well as greenhouse innovations, are enabling 20 percent of the country’s agricultural production to be carried out using these techniques,” Homero Ontiveros, a consultant for GreenTech Americas, a networking event that will take place in late March in Queretaro, Mexico, and is aimed at accelerating the adoption of protected agriculture technology in Mexico and throughout the region, Ontiveros said in an interview with EFE.
He explained that covered agriculture had grown exponentially over the past 20 years in Mexico, which ranks top five globally in the use of these types of farming techniques and is the leader in Latin America.
“The world no longer has that much fertile land for extending cultivation areas, and we don’t have more irrigation water. That’s why we need indoor agricultural systems,” he said.
Ontiveros noted that in Mexico, this farming method is used over a 50,000-hectare area, primarily to grow fruit, vegetables, and medicinal plants.
Covered agriculture involves the application of different technologies, including digital monitoring applications and hydroponics, for use as needed by small, medium, and large farmers.
Ontiveros stressed the importance of disseminating these types of technologies and training farmers, particularly in regions where the climate is variable.
He pointed in particular to geothermal energy-powered greenhouse systems in the Netherlands that optimize water use, save electricity, and control pests, adding that they serve as models for countries like Mexico to follow.
These methods of farming also are the best means of tackling climate change and world hunger, the expert said, adding that the projected global population is to rise to more than 10 billion people by 2050. Food production will need to double to meet that additional demand.
A third of the planet’s food production is currently squandered, and that waste comes at a high environmental cost because each year it contributes 8 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
For his part, the president of the Mexican Agricultural Biotechnology Council (CoMABio), Marcel Morales, said protected agriculture systems are an excellent solution for improving food productivity because, among other benefits, they enable climate and water control.
He agreed that Mexico needs to promote greenhouse technology better to capitalize on this agricultural system efficiently and said Mexican farmers also need additional training, particularly in fertilizer use.