Guava: Technological Innovations in Zacatecas, Genaro Aguilar Sánchez and Rebeca Granados Ramírez, Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Instituto de Geografía, Universidad de Chapingo, 1st ed., Mexico, 2010, 118 pp.

What is the current state of technological innovation used for guava production? And how are natural resources employed and changes introduced to guava productivity? These questions led to the field research carried out by Genaro Aguilar Sánchez and Rebeca Granados Ramírez.

The book Guayaba: innovaciones tecnológicas en Zacatecas is divided into two sections. The first section addresses topics such as the capitalism of knowledge, technological development through knowledge and dissemination of technology, applied knowledge and technology in agriculture, as well as biotechnology as a fundamental vector for technological change. Among these topics, biotechnology merits special attention due to the controversy caused by its application in agriculture through the creation of transgenic varieties using biotechnological techniques. In addition, the authors expose the possible problems of using biotechnology in agriculture, that is to say, its dangers to human health, as well as possible environmental contamination. While biotechnological practices and the generation of transgenic crops are the result of technical innovations, an almost generalized sentiment of rejection towards technical innovations exists. Huge economic interests lie behind the debate regarding the introduction of these techniques.

The demand for an adequate food supply for a growing global population is of increasing concern. As indicated in the text, to date, a new technology has always appeared on the horizon allowing us to increase production yields and to resolve the problem of food security. Nonetheless, doubts exist about the efficacy of transgenic technologies, particularly because the private sector, with its commercial interests and aims, is the one supporting agro-biotechnology research. According to this logic, there is an increasing risk that technological knowledge is closer to becoming an exclusively private good, unlike in the past, when State agencies dedicated to the agricultural sector considered it to be a public good. Technological modernization that seeks to increase productivity has lost support in the face of technological change arising from external initiatives associated with intellectual property rights controlled by foreign companies.

Given this situation, the authors indicate that humanity is facing contradictory options: if we fail to adopt technologies that generate greater yields, we run the risk of increasing agricultural surface area at the cost of environmental deterioration. In order to prevent this situation, the State should play a role in applying knowledge to agriculture.

The second part of the book describes the in-depth case study on the Juchipila region of Zacatecas, using an interesting model that identifies the social actors who participate in guava production. Moreover, this helps us to understand this local experience of knowledge dissemination and technological innovation in the region, not only as an alternative in the search for greater productivity, but also for sustainable natural resource management.

Some of the topics developed in the second part of the book include Mexico's presence as one of the world's guava producers, the main producer states of guava in Mexico, the consequences of climate phenomenon on crops, decreasing yields per hectare and technological innovations in guava production.

Technological innovations that have increased productivity in the region include improvement in water use, application of organic fertilizers, biological controls, prevention of ground frost and progress in biotechnology, although it is important to note that technological progress has been applied by producers with greater resources. One of the innovations used to improve guava production has been tissue culture, which has been possible with the support of experts from Cuba, leading to very favorable results.

Undoubtedly, technological innovations have increased guava productivity; however, intensifying the use of natural resources has also caused degradation in the region, making it necessary to carry out more research in order to avoid further damage to the environment. Hence, the importance of studies focused not only on previously mentioned innovations, but also on more recent issues regarding food production which are of vital importance to the possibilities posed.

In summary, the book Guayaba: innovaciones tecnológicas en Zacatecas brings us closer to a concrete experience in crop production, by learning how the dissemination of knowledge is carried out and, thus, technological innovations are implemented in the field. Hence, technology holds a great deal of potential for generating transformations in rural areas and offers an alternative for contributing to local development.

Paulina Mendoza
Department of Economics, UNAM
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