The Alabama fruit and vegetable industry has seen some tremendous increases over the past decade. Ayanava Majumdar, Extension entomologist with Auburn University, chalks this increase up to a growing population in Alabama.
Currently, fruit and vegetable production takes up about 7,000 acres of Alabama’s landscape. The industry is valued at about $161 million with a value-added production of about $103 million. Cucumbers and peaches top the charts regarding value, with cucumbers valued at $16.7 million and peaches valued at $8.2 million.
The industry supports over 1,000 jobs, making it a significant part of Alabama’s economy. The demand for local produce has increased exponentially as well. According to Majumdar, there are over 140 farmers’ markets in Alabama where consumers can purchase locally grown food.
Furthermore, the demand for organic produce has seen a steady increase. There are approximately 12 farms and 13 food handlers in Alabama that are certified organic.
The number of producer organizations is also growing. Alabama growers have the opportunity to join associations like the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network and the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. Majumdar says these organizations provide a great opportunity for new and existing growers to network.
Majumdar believes Alabama’s produce industry is on the rise due to an increasing population in urbanized areas. “We have about 12 metropolitan areas where there’s 3.6 million residents, or 75 percent our total state population,” he explains.
As the population continues to grow, Majumdar says the industry will continue to rise. “There’s a rapid increase in urban population, which translates into more demand for locally grown produce, so that helps the fruit and vegetable industry,” he concludes.
Hear more from Majumdar:
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