Avocados are a favourite worldwide and can be enjoyed in many ways, from dips and sauces to main-course dishes and snacks to even skin and hair products. Despite their popularity, they are sometimes criticised for damaging the planet and negatively impacting local communities.
The reality is completely different, so the World Avocado Organization brings you the Three Farms story. This company can prove how this beloved fruit can and is being grown and consumed in an eco-friendly way, as well as offering life-changing opportunities to locals.
Founded over a decade ago, Three Farms is a farming company nestled in the indigenous lands of northeast South Africa, which produces high-quality avocados, among other crops.
With more than 500 hectares of land and 300 employees, the farms produce around 3500 tonnes of avocados annually, mainly Hass and Fuerte varieties. Almost half of this is sold domestically; the rest is exported to the UK or Europe.
One of the values that Three Farms prioritises the most is sustainability, and they believe this begins at the root level. Soil fertility is essential for sustainable and quality avocado production. Three Farms achieve this by using top-grade fertilisers and techniques such as intercropping, in which other crops are grown alongside the avocados. Bio-pesticides are also used on farms, which are safe for the environment, wildlife and humans and leave no lasting residue as they break down under sunlight.
As rainfall is fairly high in the region, irrigation is often only required during critical periods. Nevertheless, Three Farms is strongly dedicated to reducing water usage as much as possible, with drip irrigation systems that can reduce water usage by up to 20-30%. On top of this, sophisticated measuring devices and digital technologies are used to ensure only the necessary amount of water is applied, stopping any potential water wastage.
Three Farms also prides itself on its commitment to biodiversity and wildlife conservation. The indigenous bush is protected and supervised as it is the habitat of hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, birds, insects and native plants. Just to name a few, bush pigs, otters, kingfishers and eagles are free to live peacefully across Three Farms and its surrounding areas with minimal fencing, which is why ecosystems are carefully monitored and managed to ensure the indigenous flora and fauna are not negatively affected by cultivation.
Three Farms works hard to ensure its workers’ needs are met, and their best interests are looked after. The workers can participate in leadership programmes that help them improve their agricultural skills every year. Workers earn competitive salaries and receive paid holidays, and even have access to daycare services and free meals for their young children.
They also give back to the local community by providing basic agriculture lessons to adults seeking education and donating money, sports equipment and other materials to nearby schools. Three Farms also employs several students from young graduate programmes each year, offering practical experience and coaching in the farming business to the future generations of the agriculture sector.
Three Farms stand to show how avocado production can be sustainable and contribute to the livelihoods of many, as well as boost career skills and education. So the next time you pick up an avocado in the supermarket, think about all the good this humble fruit does for the world around it.