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Mexican strawberry farmers go green

February 19, 2021

Mexico's strawberry farms damage soil and are a drain on water. That's why small-scale farmers are shifting toward more sustainable forms of cultivation.

Strawberry farmer, Mexico
Tierra is educating farmers on environmentally friendly strawberry farming methods Image: Aitor Saez/DW

Mexico: Diversity for monocultures

Mexico is one of the leading strawberry producers in the world — and the state of Michoacan is at its center. There, hundreds of small and medium-holder farmers grow the beloved red berry exclusively in their fields.

Still, incomes are precarious for many farmers, and monocultures and outdated agricultural practices have damaged soil and led to water shortages.

The program Madre Tierra, which means Mother Earth, is training strawberry growers in more environmentally friendly farming methods.

Isidro Ramirez is one of the oldest farmers taking part in the Madre Tierra program. He now uses an irrigation system that saves water.

The Madre Tierra program involves the German development agency, GIZ, as well as companies that process and sell the strawberries after harvesting. These include Danone-Ecosystem, Frexport, GIZ, Walmart Foundation of Mexico, Nuup and TechnoServe.

GIZ also advises the strawberry farmers as part of the project "Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Mexican Agriculture."

Isidro Ramirez now also leaves fallow plots in his fields to allow the soil to regenerate. Techniques like crop rotation will hopefully increase yields. The farmer has installed bee boxes to encourage natural pollination, too. And he can minimize his fertilizer use with the help of a new app.

This program is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and implemented by GIZ.

Project objective: Companies and farmers work together to promote biodiversity and enhance the sustainability of farming

Budget: The program "Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Mexican Agriculture" is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) with more than €5 million ($6 million)

A film by Aitor Sáez