ICRPS 2014 Summer School – Roses, Frogs, Green tomatoes, and all things sweet drive regional development

Blog #5 – July 4, 2014

by Regional Development group 1

The second field trip of ICRPS – Mexico 2014 took place on the 4th of the July. The day began, at 7am on the bus, with a passionate rendition of “America the beautiful” in honour of America’s Independence Day. Today we visited the Villa Guerrero and Ixtapan de la municipalities in the State of Mexico. Villa Guerrero is located on the southern slopes of the Nevado de Toluca, about 50 km from Toluca, while Ixtapan de la Sal is a further 25 km south-west of Villa Guerrero. Both municipalities’ economies focus on agriculture. In particular, the domination of flower production is evident by the large number of greenhouses dotting the countryside in both regions.

Photo 3Our first stop brought us to a large rose production site in Villa Guerrero. The scale of the production and the importance of the enterprise to the local community were clear from the beginning. We had an extensive question and answers session with the enterprise owner. We discussed the history of the greenhouse flower production industry in the region, the economic and environmental impact of the enterprise, and the social conditions of the 90 workers at the rose production enterprise.

We asked the producer about the reason of the majority of woman in this industry, and he responded that “women have the hands for this kind of work” which means that they are more delicate than men.

Recognizing the importance of the flowers industry in this region of Mexico and the extensive role women play in the industry, many of us came away thinking more about the level of pesticides women are exposed to and how working conditions in the flower farm might compare across other regional farms and across farms in other OECD countries. From an empowerment standpoint, we felt it would be interesting to find out if there is a local association for women that promote empowerment and worker rights. There is no question that the flower industry provides jobs to local people, however in many cases this shouldn’t be a reason for women to accept any conditions.

Such was the beauty of the roses several students expressed an interest in sending a bouquet home – did Charles manage to send a bouquet home to his mother?

Bull frogs galore!

Photo 4

“One would rarely think of bull frog farming as a regional development strategy” a participant expressed while visiting the aquaculture research facility of Ixtapan.

Following our visit to Mexico’s agriculture research facility, ICAMEX, We had the opportunity to learn how the veterinary department is working to improve exotic fish species such as Tilapia and Carps (non-indigenous to the region) to adopt to the region’s cooler climate, but also the diversification strategies taking place in aquaculture. The aquaculture department breeds and supplies farmers with fingerlings and froglets and also provides technical advice to the farmers in the region. Fingerlings are often supplied to farmers at only 5% the cost while frogs are supplied for free. From an economic standpoint one might be wondering- how many frogs would one need to supply or sustain this system? Little! A single female bull frog produces/ lays an average of 30,000 eggs each time.  Due to the cooler climate the tadpoles take an average of 3 months as opposed to 1.5 (typical in warmer tropical regions).  As these frogs are bred for food, the juveniles are introduced to trout food which allows them to grow faster and bigger for consumption.

After an incredibly busy and interesting day, the ICRPS group were treated to a gorgeous buffet in “Los Arroyos” restaurant before returning to Toluca. Please check out all the amazing photos of the field trip on the ICRPS 2014-Mexico on Facebook.