Effects of the Industrialization of Tequila on Agave Workers in Arandas, Mexico

Client: Siembra Azul Foundation
Faculty: Lucille Pilling
Team: Kathleen Apltauer, Elisabeth Eckersberger, Shira Honig, Pamela Wren
Year: 2009
NAFTA and U.S. recognition of Mexico's regions of appellation for tequila brought a substantial presence of multinational corporations into Mexico's tequila industry. With this, agave -- the principal ingredient of tequila -- is no longer cultivated by small farmers who possess the knowledge of all aspects of production. Due to the influx of multinational corporations, orchard-type environments are now cultivated and harvested by a multitude of people, each performing a specialized task. These developments bring changes to the economic and social roles of those working with agave and create a potential loss of multi-generational knowledge and alienation from traditional lands. While there has been considerable study of the liquor tequila and of the agave plant, the impact of the changes in agave production on the agave field workers of today is not yet documented. Who are the people who work in the agave fields of the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico? What is their role in today's agave production? What is the impact of the changes in agave production on these workers? The Capstone team interviewed workers in the agave fields surrounding Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico to answer such pressing questions.