For more than 100 years, Sinaloa and the Culiacan Valley have been important growers and exporters of vegetables, with the North American market as its main destination. Currently, more than one billion dollars are exported to these markets in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green beans, hot peppers, pumpkins, watermelons, berries, mangoes, and Chinese vegetables, among other vegetables and fruits.
The demands and expectations of buyers, supermarkets, food service, and consumers have always been high. And not only in terms of quality but also in terms of food safety and social responsibility.
Sinaloa has maintained its status as a leading exporting state, recognized for its high compliance with these requirements. It has promoted compliance with certifications and criteria that allow growers to measure and improve their standards.
Georgius Gotsis, Chief Executive Officer, Veggies From Mexico
“As Veggies From Mexico, during our weekly audits on social responsibility issues, we contribute to the well-being of our workers, ensuring compliance with criteria set by the law and the certificates required by buyers,” commented Georgius Gotsis, Chief Executive Officer of Veggies From Mexico.
A key player in achieving these objectives has been the Asociación de Agricultores del Rio Culiacan (AARC). This horticultural association from Sinaloa includes the municipalities of Culiacan, Navolato, and Elota. It is worth mentioning that one of the main contributions of the association has been the promotion of social responsibility among its members, which has improved, even more, the living conditions of farm workers and their families who arrive during the horticultural seasons.
Among the conditions and improvement actions that the growers offer to their collaborators, in addition to what is required by law, are free housing, sanitary modules, sports fields, nurseries, schools, breastfeeding centers, and medical offices, among others. It is worth mentioning that among the farmers who are members of the AARC, there are 97 housing units, which have a population of approximately 47,900 people, of which 44,000 are migrants.
In the 2022-2023 season, AARC’s agricultural companies provided 92 daycare centers for more than 9,800 children, ranging from newborns to 14-year-olds. Twenty-two agricultural companies had, within their facilities, school classrooms to provide different educational levels and respond to the demand requested by the population. In other cases, some companies send students to nearby schools in the community, providing transportation free of charge.
The Consejo Nacional de Fomento Educativo (CONAFE) assisted approximately 1,985 preschool and elementary school students, and the Secretaría de Educación Pública y Cultura (SEPyC) assisted a population of almost 8,440 children in preschool, elementary and high school.
The member companies currently have 77 medical offices for the first-level care of their population and their families. Of the total number of medical offices, 41 have agreements with the Mexican Social Security Institute and 36 are managed entirely by the agricultural companies.
“Among the conditions and improvement actions that the growers offer to their collaborators, in addition to what is required by law, are free housing, sports fields, nurseries, schools, breastfeeding centers, and medical offices, among others,” added Enrique Riveros, President of AARC.
Likewise, the AARC accompanies and supports all social responsibility actions of its member companies through its PROFAMILIA DE JORNALEROS department, which works under five areas of attention: Health, Nutrition, Education, Sports, Labor, and Community Welfare.
In health, for example, campaigns are organized with a mobile unit and health talks linked to the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Ministry of Health.
In nutrition, healthy and wholesome food is promoted with families through daycare centers where their children are cared for, as well as direct actions with the population.
In education, Pro Familia promotes educational insertion through the different programs of the Ministry of Public Education and Culture (SEPyC), the Council for the Promotion of Education (CONAFE), and the Sinaloa Institute for the Education of Youth and Adults (ISEJA).
In sports, they promote family coexistence and addiction prevention through sports practice with the soccer league tournament.
In terms of labor and community welfare, administrative and medical care procedures are handled at the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Sinaloa Pediatric Hospital. They also promote actions in daycare centers to maintain and improve their services.
Concerning the protection of women and children, they promote direct management actions with the State DIF System (Integral Family Development), the State Council for the Prevention and Attention of Family Violence (CEPAVIF), and the System for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents (SIPINNA).
Through the Vital Records Office, employees are helped with the documentation such as birth and marriage certificates, among others. This is done together with the State Human Rights Commission (CEDH).
Likewise, to promote environmental care, Pro Familia encourages the planting of trees in the shelters.
One of the main actions of Pro Familia is to provide training in social work, health and safety at work, safe handling of agrochemicals, and monthly workshops with agricultural social workers, among others.
Finally, the AARC provides important support to the Veggies from Mexico program, which is dedicated to auditing and promoting full compliance with food safety and social responsibility criteria among growers in Sinaloa.
The growers who are members of AARC provide, year after year, spaces and services beyond what is required by law, to their collaborators in the farms. They do it because of their strong sense of humanity and their awareness of social responsibility. Having the support of AARC has facilitated this experience; and it has been precisely these efforts that have differentiated the growers of Culiacan from other growers in Mexico and the world; allowing them to be, in winter season, the main suppliers of vegetables to the most demanding consumer in the world, the American.