The secretary of the Department of Agriculture of Puerto Rico, Ramón González Beiró, together with the administrator of the Administration of Socioeconomic Development of the Family (Adsef), Alberto Fradera, visited on Friday one of the farms with the highest production of tomatoes on the Island, located in Santa Isabel, in order to promote agricultural employability in the vegetable sector during the high harvest season and promote local consumption of the fruit in Puerto Rican households.
“We are celebrating the start of the tomato harvest and we want to promote one of our products. The labor shortage has been a constant challenge in the agricultural sector and represents a fundamental part for the execution of our agribusinesses, affecting their production and marketing. We need to promote that more Puerto Ricans want to enter the agrarian labor world, ”said González Beiró.
González Beiró said that, in accordance with the public policy of Governor Pedro Pierluisi and under his administration, existing programs will be made available to farmers as new initiatives to increase consumption of the local product and, in turn, establish new agreements with the different agencies to create strategies that are aimed at promoting agricultural work.
“We support the workers of our land with food assistance from the PAN. Currently, over 6,500 people who work in agriculture enjoy this benefit. If you are a seasonal worker, you do not lose your benefits. We urge you to collaborate in this harvest that begins today, which contributes to increasing food security in Puerto Rico and provides fresh and nutritious food in our homes, ”said Fradera.
While the general manager of the farm and producer for more than 32 years, Guillermo Fernández, expressed that, “we have faced a loss of personnel, the employees do not arrive and the work is strong and requires a large number of collectors that we do not have. Consequently, the number of ropes planted is reduced. As far as the 800 strings we had, the production decreased and the quantity decreased. Today we have only 280 strings of tomatoes ”.
In the case of the Gargiulo Inc. farm, the projected production for this season in 2021 is 685 thousand boxes, in order to export 50% of the production. At the production level, before Hurricane María, they exported 70%.
Finally, the secretary emphasized in his vision: “Our approach is to strengthen commercialization and present alternatives for the development of agriculture and the island’s economy. This is why we seek to provide farmers with all the available resources to position them nationally and internationally, however, we emphasize the urgent need for unemployed people to see agriculture as an employment opportunity and contribute to the development of our lands, ”added the Secretary.
People interested in being employed in tomato picking can call 787-845-2530.