Mexican farmers switching to corn could create tequila shortage

24 Jul 2007

Tequila is key to a great margarita, but many farmers in Mexico are now ditching the blue agave plant used to make the liquor to cash in on corn and the demand for alternative fuel — and some say that could lead to the great tequila shortage.
In the highlands of Jalisco, workers known as jimadores harvest blue agave plants. They slash off the sharp leaves to get to the heart, which is used to make tequila.
The plants take at least six years to ripen, and patience can pay off when agave prices are high.
However, now some growers are bulldozing their fields to make way for corn. It’s worth more, says one worker, thanks to the growing demand for ethanol.
At same time, agave prices have plummeted, as there’s an overabundance of the plant.

One grower is so eager to clear his agave field that some of the workers are harvesting plants that are not quite mature. He and others in the region are eager to cash in on corn before the crop’s prices peak.
People are hopeful it means more jobs in area known for heavy migration.

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