Mexico looks towards Hydroponics


Practical Hydroponics & greenhouses

Mexico looks towards Hydroponics

Mexico's first ever Hydroponic Congress, held in May, proved a great succes and revealed a vast potential market for hydroponic systems and expertise.

he Asociación Hidropónica Mexicana (AHM) held its First Annual Congress and Course on Hydroponics, from the 6th - 8th of May, 1999. The conference was held in Toluca, about 45 minutes west of México City, at the Toluca Convention Center.

This inaugural event was designed to help promote hydroponic technology in Mexico, as a means of developing new food sources, generating jobs and income, and bringing hydroponic enterprise to rural and urban areas. Press coverage was prominent at the Congress, with television crews and newspapers in attendance, as well as Mexican Government dignitaries.

The president of the AMH, Gloria Samperio Ruiz, has led an energetic crusade to bring more hydroponic technology to the people of Mexico, Central and South America, who came to participate in this three-day course into hydroponic principles, equipment and techniques. It was truly an amazing sight to see so many people gathered for this common cause, The crowd was very diverse, and ranged from Government officials to Oaxaca Indians. Hobby growers, commercial growers, educators and students were all in attendance.

In the last few years, Gloria has travelled all over Mexico, educating the people about hydroponics, while also offering educational courses on basic hydroponic techniques. In fact, the congress also represented an opportunity for students to complete their studies with her, and Diplomas were handed out to these astudents at the end of proceedings.

Gloria's enthusiasm for advancing the cause of hydroponics in Mexico, inspired a number of noted hydrponic educators, researchers and authors to come and speak at this events. Each of the speakers lectured once a day on different subjects. While to the experienced commercial hydroponic grower, this congress may have seemed elementary in content, the topics were suited to the audience attending.

Speakers at the event included: Sr. Meri cummings and Dr. Laurie Ruberg from the Nasa center for Educational techonolgies; Dr. Juan Figueroa Vera, from the University of Talca in Santiago, Chile; Alfredo Rodriguez Delfin from the University Agraria la Molina in Lima Peru; Peggy Bradley, from Bradley Hydroponics; Dr. Florian Martinez and Dr. Maria Milagros Gonzles Real from the Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias in Spain; Lawrence Brooke owner of General Hydroponics in California; Ing. Cesar Marulanda Tabares from United nations development Program in Colombia; Dr. Tom Papadopoulos from the Harrow Research Centre in Ontario, Canada; and noted educator Dr Merle Jensen from the University of Arizona.

The official languages of the conference were English an Spanish. Small portable headsets were made available to everyone and translation was broadcast in one language or the other throughout the Congress. There were some difficult words to translate at times, buy they did a great job.

The first hay of conference opened with introductions, followed by an Inauguration address from Otmar Silberstein, Charman of the Education Commitee of the Hydroponic Society of America.

Lectures during the Congress covered a broad range of subjet matter. Speakers discussed commercial hydroponic systems and techniques, crop production of watercress, lettuce, roses and gerberas, advantages and disadvantages of hydroponics, pest and disease management and the outlook in Mexico for further expansion into the hydroponic food industry.

There were eight distributors in attendance for the accompanying Show, wich lasted for the duration of conference. While the trade show was not well attended by industry merchants this year, I'm certain that future conferences in Mexico will not be overlooked. There was a great demand for information, contacts and resources at the Congress, certainly a strong indicator of the opportunities that exists in this part of the world.

Commercial hydroponics is currently being used in Mexico but, as in most areas of the world, in has not yet realized its potential. There are also certainly pitfalls to be avoided. For example, the cost of importing goods into Mexico, such as quality nutrients, growing mediums and other greenhouse equipment, must be kept to a minimum for commercial hydroponic production to be profitable there. These issues were specifically addressed during the course of the lectures, but remain very real concerns. Dr Howard Resh encourtage new commercial growers to maintain the most complete and modern greenhouses possible, to better equip themselves for competing in the marketplace.

Omerall I felt the conference was very impressive for a first year organization, and an important step in the evolution of hydroponics in Mexico. Gloria Samperio Ruiz, Secretary Ruben Valle Catalan and the other team members praise for their hard work and effort in making this Congress a reality.