In this interview for Veggies from Mexico, we had the opportunity to talk with Hector Almaraz, an enthusiastic young man who has made his professional path in Agricola Belher, originally from a town in the Cienega Candelaria Loxicha, Oaxaca.
Hector began his career as an enthusiastic, committed, and hard-working young man that had the opportunity to grow professionally as a farm worker and he became a safety supervisor.
His coworkers believe that Hector is a proactive person, and he always does more than what his position requires, he goes the extra mile, he can anticipate further situations, he is someone who does not expect someone else to solve things first, he looks for a way to make it happen and if is necessary, he does things himself until the result is achieved.
Join us to read a little about what a working day is like for Hector at Agricola Belher.
1. Could you share and explain what Hector’s workday is like at Agricola Belher?
I arrived for the first time in Sinaloa in 2016 to work in the fields of Agricola Belher as a day laborer and I was starting from the bottom, they offered me that opportunity that allowed me to excel and have the know-how in the processes based on experience, I feel thrilled for been working as a production safety supervisor for 4 years.
I woke up very early, motivated, and enthusiastic to be able to contribute with a high dedication to all my tasks day by day, which are related to providing security and reliability in the management activities of horticultural production. I am glad to have a group of trained collaborators who do the maintenance of the facilities of the production unit. I believe that is important to raise awareness about the importance of their contribution to the processes for the fulfillment of food safety and for that I give them a conference with a motivational talk.
And my primary goal is to provide safety and reliability through a monitoring and verification process. This starts with a routine tour with inspections of activities carried out under the authorized procedures, taking care of the safety of employees and horticultural production. On the other hand, I carry out training as the main basis and strategy to promote awareness of compliance, for which I audit a booth at random to improve by giving them a percentage of compliance evaluation, recognizing the practice of agricultural safety in their activities, committing to take care of the health and safety of our consumers.
2. What are your functions as a production safety supervisor?
To carry out hygiene and disinfection inspections in the processes and facilities, in addition to monitoring the cleaning and maintenance of the facilities, instructing collaborators on the importance of compliance and sanitation policies.
3. How important are the best practices program and cleaning and sanitation for the agricultural operation?
To establish compliance with the guidelines that help minimize risk and promote process safety, and reduce the risk of contamination, which influences the management of safe activities in the field by the collaborators that allow us to guarantee quality horticultural products and consumer safety.
4. What attributes do you consider that make the expected results achieved in each area of the operation of the companies?
Dedication, communication, organization. Leadership is the main foundation for managing or carrying out the processes to be performed, because it influences participation, acquiring ideas for improvement, systematizing work plans, and coordination to implement strategies for continuous improvement and innovation and obtain results.
5. How valuable are permanent training and a good relationship with the entire work team in each area of the company?
I consider regular training to be one of my most important tools because it is the way to educate and increase workers’ awareness about the application of processes, avoiding any danger or incident that could damage the quality and safety of the company’s products.
It is important to me to communicate and socialize, always listening to employees’ suggestions, for which with effort and dedication they implement good practices, giving assurance of commitment and compliance as the main objective of healthy communication and organization and interacting with the community, working with security and safety.
6. How important is it to work under a compliance and constant improvement scheme?
Working under certification schemes helps us to be competitive in the work environment, which gives us security and reliability in our compliance, giving certainty to the processes of handling safe agricultural products, in which our consumers, suppliers and we consume something healthy and free of unsafe practices.
On the other hand, day by day we work to create progress, with which we move forward with collaborative projects, which impact the community on an equal basis to be recognized as a socially responsible company.
7. How important is it for companies to have certifications in safety and social responsibility and how does this benefit employees?
Create a work environment under sanitary inspection standards, taking care of the employee’s safety and health, focusing on health and safety. Labor laws. Including social responsibility as the foundation for gender equality, non-discrimination, fair labor, care for the environment, and abolishing child and forced labor. Wages by the law. Giving the confidence that all our processes and compliance demonstrate that we are a socially responsible company, with its employees, generating dignified work for family sustenance.
8. How has it been for the company to belong to the Veggies from Mexico/Eleven Rivers Growers community?
Being part of the Veggies from Mexico community has been the main step for the company to be recognized and to be able to distribute its horticultural products and establish marketing to different parts of the country to which they export products with safety and quality standards and with the certainty that our customers can consume them safely.
9. How has the business changed in recent years and what changes do you think the industry will experience in the next 10 years and what impact will this have on agribusinesses?
In recent years the operation of the companies has been in constant changes in process standards to bring fresh produce from the field to the table, considering the criteria for compliance with labor safety rules, standards, marketing policies, and compliance laws, making that in the coming years for the produce industry will be more demanding in sanitation measures and food safety inspections. This would have an efficient impact and show reliability in the processes of the companies, to guarantee the health of our consumers.
10. Do you have any other comments you would like to add?
I would like to thank the family of Agricola Belher, the staff, and all those who are part of the company, for allowing me to be part of the company, and all those who have supported me with their knowledge and dedication to achieve the objectives of fulfillment. It has improved my work performance efficiently.