Challenges and opportunities in Mexico: an overview

Over the last couple of years, the investments in the North and Latin American CEA industry have only seemed to rise and rise further, but they dried up abruptly in 2022. Skyrocketing inflation, higher rents, and insecurity among profitability caused investors to keep their money in their pockets. Greenhouse builders are now calling the growers, tomething that has been quite opposite over the last couple of years.

During the GreenTech Americas, the first signs of resilience became visible. Other than the expansion of the market, there are also a lot of techniques being implemented and everyday challenges being faced. 

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VB and Tebarex joined forces in Mexico last year

Project news
The majority of Mexican produce are exported to the US and Canada. Over the last couple of years, the Mexican market has seen many investments from North American parties, but those dried up last year.

"The Mexican market is known to be volatile," says Nanne Bentvelzen with VB. The company has been operating in Mexico for almost 18 years, meaning they're quite used to fluctuations in the industry. Yet, as they focus on climate projects in glass and modern poly greenhouses, they for sure noticed the effects of the halted investors market. "It's early to say so, but the market seems to slowly get back on its feet, and the atmosphere on the trade show has been overall very positive," Nanne says. Together with Tebarex, they were at the show and had a successful event. "We were happy to be there and have some interesting projects on the agenda for 2023."

The growth of the GreenTech Americas showed more suppliers are looking to get into the market, with a remarkable number of Turkish companies present, either opening their own offices or looking for distributors. They see opportunities as the Turkish climate resembles the Mexican one and the industry. This goes for the weather and for the business climate.

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Jesus Ortiz, Karen Melgareso, Fernando Aifaro, Mariela Ramirez and Eduardo Navarro with Growa - previously known as Stolze Mexico, but now operating independently. 

Labor has been an issue in Mexico for many years and only became more urgent as the market grew. There's a shortage of people willing to work in the greenhouses – especially the older ones – and there's a shortage of educated growers. International and national suppliers regularly organize knowledge events, the Queretaro municipality tries to support education programs, there's the Ceickor University focusing specifically on horticulture and also on the GreenTech Americas, an extensive knowledge program was organized.  

Then there are suppliers offering techniques to control a higher greenhouse acreage with fewer growers. Examples of this are the HortiFootprint Calculator of Hoogendoorn, helping to grow in an even more sustainable way. The software of Waybeyond enables growers to use sensors to get more control over their greenhouse, the autonomous growing techniques of Blue Radix, and the autonomous greenhouse of Priva.

Jose Roberto Montes Contreras, Jorge Guiterrez with FD Berries and Andrew Pidgeon with Fibredust 

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Like everywhere else, ToBRFV is the dark cloud over the tomato industry. Especially for soil growers, getting rid of the virus seems impossible and resistant varieties are eagerly awaited. Hygiene is the first point of action, and there's a lot of research conducted on the virus DNA to find the cause of its spread.

Crop protection, crop health, and hygiene measures in farms are important topics overall. An example is the warm welcome given to Valto Biocontrol, winner of the start- and scale-up challenge during the show. They launched the product V10, which helps growers to protect and make their tomato plants resistant to the Pepinomozaïek Virus (PepMV) using an environment-friendly method. With cross-protection, young plants are 'vaccinated' with mild variants of a virus, which prepares and protects the plants against the symptoms of this virus all year. Since 2022 Valto has had permission to sell V10 in the Mexican market.

Dutch start-up Valto won the  start- and scale-up challenge during GreenTech Americas. Valto Biocontrol launched the product V10, which helps growers to protect and make their tomato plants resistant against the Pepinomozaïek Virus (PepMV) using an environment friendly method. In the photo sales manager Edwin Van Dop. 

Another big challenge is water. While more and more greenhouses appear, there's less water available, and it seems like the climate only gets more extreme. Suppliers offer techniques to reuse water or to irrigate more precisely, and hydroponic techniques are on the rise. During the GreenTech Americas Conference, Substrate and fertigation in greenhouses was an important topic.

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