By: Georgius Gotsis,
Director of Veggies from Mexico – Confederation of Agricultural Associations of the State of Sinaloa (CAADES)
Every year, thousands of workers migrate to Sinaloa’s fields to work, coming from Mexican states such as Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Veracruz, as well as from the highlands of Sinaloa, usually from the municipalities of Sinaloa and Badiraguato.
These workers stay voluntarily at the facilities of Sinaloa’s agricultural companies for periods ranging from approximately 3 to 6 months; therefore, it is vitally important that they are in dignified, safe, and comfortable conditions so that their stay is a good experience, and they can work comfortably.
Most of these migrant workers work in Sinaloa’s horticultural companies, which seek to offer them a decent quality of life and to ensure that they are in the best conditions for the time they remain in their companies.
As Veggies From Mexico, an organism of CAADES, we have witnessed that these actions generate a positive change in farm workers and their families, we have witnessed the pride and sense of belonging that parents feel when they give their children the opportunity to study while they are working in the farms, providing workers with decent housing, recreational areas and various cultural and recreational activities including children’s, mothers’ and fathers’ day celebrations, Christmas posadas, school graduation ceremonies and a sport tournament that was recently held in the professional soccer stadium of the Dorados de Sinaloa team.
The possibility of migrating with their entire family to live in the horticultural export companies and these companies provide the possibility for their children, themselves, and even the elderly to study through various government programs such as ISEJA, Un Kilo de Ayuda, AFOMAC AC, The hot breakfast program of Pro Familia de Jornaleros IAP, has been transformative, we find stories of workers who lived in shelters during their childhood and managed to graduate with a degree and currently occupy a professional position within the same company, this through these programs.
Soon, we will meet the doctors, dentists, lawyers, and engineers who grew up in the agricultural shelters and managed to transform their reality, because “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela.
Some of the services that Sinaloa horticultural export companies provide to workers and their families are:
Legal benefits, i.e., everything related to living wages, vacation payments, vacation bonuses, Christmas bonuses, severance pay, and overtime, among others.
Childcare, in coordination with governmental institutions, hygienic and safe spaces are set up within the facilities of the agricultural companies that offer care for the workers’ children, where they are provided with balanced meals, early stimulation, health monitoring, and cultural, recreational, and sports activities. All of this is provided by constantly trained personnel.
They offer decent housing, adequate living spaces for the number of family members (or small groups in the case of people who migrate without family), hygienic, safe, free of charge, equipped with basic services such as access to drinking water, sinks, showers, and toilets while respecting privacy.
Transportation services are provided, both from the place of origin (round trip) and for internal mobility, workers are transported in hygienic and safe conditions, with all documents in order, for example, life insurance and medical expenses for occupants in the event of an accident.
They promote education, integration, and retention in basic education by building classrooms in the shelters themselves or transporting them to the nearest community schools, hiring National Council for the Promotion of Education (CONAFE) teachers, and providing educational counseling, scholarships, and food supplies. We also work in coordination with the Sinaloa Institute for the Education of Youth and Adults (ISEJA) to train adult education groups.
Medical services are available, using various strategies, including the installation of equipped and stocked clinics, staffed by competent medical personnel; the visit of the IMSS “mobile medical unit” a couple of times a week; transportation to community clinics on demand; health promotion through campaigns of talks, vaccination, dissemination of information, etc., vaccination campaigns and delivery of prescription glasses.
They provide the service of collective dining rooms, where food is prepared in hygienic conditions, sometimes totally free of charge and sometimes at very low prices.
There are health, safety, and civil protection programs, and workers are trained to identify occupational hazards, train work teams to know how to act in the event of an accident and use appropriate personal protective equipment, among other activities to minimize the risk of suffering an accident or occupational disease.
They have also managed to find very specific services according to the needs of the sheltered populations, for example, breastfeeding facilities so that working mothers can breastfeed their children during their working day, as Commercial Distributor and Promoter (DICONSA) stores or not, with accessible prices, tortilla factories, bakeries, water purification plants, even chapels and other spaces for religious, cultural and sports activities.
The journey has not been easy, and all of this has been achieved over the years. What is a reality is that this social conscience on the part of the farmers continues to be one of their main engines to offer their workers and their families conditions that allow them to continue to grow.