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The Irrigation Frontline -- Examining Land Use Change and Resource Rights Fueling the Michoacan Berry Boom
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  • Sarah Hartman,
  • Michelle Farfán,
  • Jaime Hoogesteger,
  • Paolo D'Odorico
Sarah Hartman
University of California Berkeley

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Michelle Farfán
Universidad de Guanajuato
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Jaime Hoogesteger
Wageningen University
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Paolo D'Odorico
University of California Berkeley
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Year-round demand for luxury food crops, such as berries, has rapidly increased for high income populations in the last twenty years. For example, the United States per capita import of berries has increased tenfold in twenty years, with at least 98% of its imported strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries being sourced from Mexico. In the Mexican state of Michoacan, agricultural areas have transformed to satisfy the global demand, altering local water and land resource patterns. While previous studies have examined the water resource sustainability of export agriculture, more research is needed to understand how export-oriented agriculture competes with or complements common pool resource systems previously established in production regions. In this study, we combine a national dataset on communal-tenured land (ejidal land) with geospatial agricultural data to quantify the water and land use resource changes of Michoacan – the booming heart of Mexican berries. This study captures the berry boom that occurred in the state between 2010 and 2020 using machine learning algorithms on satellite images, land cover change mapping, and biophysical modelling. It asks to what extent the communal land, with its associated natural resources, has been incorporated into the agro-export crop industry. This study adds to the existing commons literature by assessing local land use and resource use change within an increasingly globalized world.