Los Cabos is one of Mexico’s most rapidly growing cities with a population expecting to triple by the year of 2040. This is mainly in part due to the booming tourism industry with endless construction of hotels, resorts, golf courses, etc., This encourages and requires migrants from mainland Mexico to move to the region for construction occupations. A growing population translates into urban sprawl and the encroachment on agricultural land. The Los Cabos’ economy relies roughly 90% on the tourism industry and consequently, many other subject matters, for example, food security, are seen as second class priorities. There unfortunately is no strong advocacy for food security at the municipal level. There is a lack of municipal support for farmers both financially and legislatively. Many laws impede their ability to sell their produce due to water rights laws. There is also the issue of a lack of communication and collaboration between the different sectors of government, resulting in a huge lack of awareness of food security programs and initiatives. Many fail to understand the value and importance of food security for the region of Los Cabos because they have the understanding that importing from the mainland is a viable solution. This, however, fails to take into consideration the external costs of importing goods, namely the environmental stresses of transportation and unnecessary use of fossil fuels.
Agricultural lands need to be protected for many reasons. Land used for agriculture is a vital natural and economic asset for people throughout Los Cabos and beyond. Moreover, preservation of a maximum amount of agricultural land is necessary to maintain the agricultural economy of the region and for the assurance of adequate, healthy and nutritious food. The expansion of urban and touristic development in rural areas is a public concern because of conflicts between farm and urban activities. Natural resources including water, fertile lands and indigenous vegetation must therefore be protected and preserved.
Alexanne and fellow intern, Alec Young, presenting their projects at IMPLAN
Alexanne Dick, a former Food Security Research Assistant at IMPLAN focused her time here on these real and growing issues of food insecurity in Los Cabos. In her time here she developed an agricultural land policy for the sub-region of the East Cape with the intent to maintain the agricultural economy of the region for the assurance of adequate, healthy, and nutritious food for the current and growing population of Los Cabos. Her project was inspired by a British Columbia initiative, The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). This project was brought to fruition in response to urbanization and sprawl in the city, similar to the future for Los Cabos. The ALR established a set of land rights that protected a certain percentage of land to be dedicated for agricultural purposes.
Photo from ALR website – provincial zone where agriculture is recognized as the priority use
To gain a better understanding of the area and the agricultural world in the East Cape, Alexanne hosted two participatory development workshops held in the towns of Miraflores and Santiago. The workshops included a presentation, a SWOT Analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), a general questionnaire and a question and answer period. The main objectives were to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats regarding a proposal to permanently protect agricultural land in the sub-region of the East Cape. Furthermore, they were intended to empower locals working in the agricultural sector and to give them decision making power in the subject of protecting the areas they make a living from. Using a participatory development feedback method was positively received. It gave people who do not often have the opportunity to speak out about the issues that matter to them. The workshops effectively engaged people from many different sectors in a conversation pertaining to concerns they all share but do not necessarily have the opportunity to get together.
A photo from one of the workshops
As a relatively new intern in Los Cabos dealing with a similar field of research, Alexanne’s project is both informative and inspiring. I can truly appreciate the work and passion she put into her project and I look forward to my research and time here!