Avocados for sale in a Mexico City market. Photograph: Nick Wagner/AP
The popularity of the avocado in the US and rising prices for the “superfood” are fuelling deforestation in central Mexico.
Mexican farmers can make much higher profits growing avocados than from most other crops and so are thinning out pine forests to plant young avocado trees.
Such is the size of the market that it has become a lucrative business for Mexico’s drug gangs, with extortion money paid to criminal organisations such as Los Caballeros Templarios (The Knights Templar) in Michoacán – the state that produces most of Mexico’s avocados – estimated at 2bn pesos ($109m) a year.