Mexican AMHPAC members bring technology to the world
by Christina DiMartino | January 31, 2011
Eric Viramontes, chief executive officer of Asociación Mexicana de
Horticultura Protegida, a membership organization comprised of Mexican
greenhouse growers and known commonly as AMHPAC, told The Produce
News that growers there today use state-of-the-art protected agriculture
technology, and that the rest of the world is paying attention.
"The greenhouse industry is evolving and growing tremendously fast around
the world," said Mr. Viramontes. "And producers everywhere are eager to
learn the most sophisticated techniques available. Mexican growers have
worked for three or more generations to become the best of the best, and
people are partnering with our member companies from all over because of
During the past 30 years to 40 years, Mexican producers have learned about
greenhouse technology from other nations, including France, Israel, New
Zealand, Canada and the United States. During that time, they have also been
learning and adapting the technology to their country's growing conditions.
The result is that today producers in other countries want to learn from
Today, producers in countries such as South Africa are using systems
developed in Mexico. And when professionals from China, Japan, France,
Israel and many other countries visit Mexico, they admit that the greenhouse
industry there is much more advanced than they expected.
"This is something that has not been fully revealed, but it is happening and in
a big way in Mexico today," Mr. Viramontes said.
AMHPAC was "born" in 1999 as a membership trade organization. In 2007, it
was reengineered to move more aggressively into marketing, and was, Mr.
Viramontes said, "reborn."
"We have just under 300 members today," he said. "Among them are about
220 growing operations in 24 Mexican states. Of those, 28 are using
protected agriculture practices.
"One of coolest things about Mexico is our God-given great climate," he
continued. "That enables our producers to grow in ideal conditions that are
perfectly suited to their climate. These operations range from simple
technology like shadehouses to highly technical, completely enclosed
Mr. Viramontes uses a metaphor to describe the Mexican greenhouse
industry. "It is similar to buying the necessary gear for a vacation," he said. "If
you're going to a tropical resort, you need lightweight clothing. But if you're
going snow skiing, you need completely different gear. This is similar to what
happens with protected agriculture. Our growers use the related technology
necessary to manage the environment, weather, pests, snow, wind, insects,
diseases and all the other elements they need to protect their crops. It's a
matter of how you apply technology to your unique conditions. It does not
mean that you're using low technology if you're growing in shadehouses; it
means you're using the right technology for your conditions."
In 2010, AMHPAC calculated the hectares of greenhouse production in
Mexico and estimated that it stands at about 15,000 hectares. Of those,
major producers represent about 9,000 hectares. "The remainder are smaller
growers who tend to distribute on a local, regional and state level," Mr.
Viramontes explained. "We are growing in terms of trying to keep up with the
demand. Sometimes producers grow faster than they should, but today our
larger growers use calculated growth strategies in their production. In the
future, Mexico will likely be the primary supplier for vegetables for the