On March 17 and 18, the Mexican Association of Protected Horticulture (AMHPAC) assembled the leaders of the fruit and vegetable sector to analyze the current situation of Social Responsibility in Mexico.
The 3rd AMHPAC Symposium on Agricultural Social Responsibility was held in Guadalajara, Jalisco, with the participation of 100 representatives from agricultural companies located in 14 states of the Mexican Republic.
Some of the topics addressed during the Symposium’s working sessions were:
Compliance with the labor chapter of the T-MEC; environmental impact in the agricultural sector; innovation and improvement; female labor force in Mexico; new models in the hiring and retention of personnel, forced and child labor; and legal update: agricultural season 2022-2023.
The participating speakers were:
Aldo Mares Benavides, CNA Vice President of Labor Welfare and Sergio Gómez Lora CEO of the CCE Washington office; Jorge Humberto Siller Cepeda, Director of Climate Change and Management at the Secretariat of Welfare and Sustainable Development of the Government of the State of Sinaloa; Concepción Monserrath Muciño Archundia, Deputy Director of Labor Equality at STPS; Diana Mercado Cisneros, Founder and President of Educando al Campo; Yessica Calvario Casarrubias, Coordinator of the ILO’s Safety and Health in the Tomato and Chile Value Chains Project for Mexico and Cuba; and Gustavo H. Robles Balderrama, AMHPAC Legal Advisor.
The event culminated with a series of simultaneous workshops focused on the following topics:
The hiring of the seasonal farmworker (Federal Labor Law (LFT) and IMSS social security), presented by Gustavo H. Robles Balderrama, Legal Advisor of AMHPAC; Pros and Cons of Unionism in Mexico, presented by Luz Maria Chombo Tovar, Certification Manager of AHIFORES, and Practical Exercises to Strengthen Human Rights in Companies, given by Iliana Grisell Vergara Gómez, Head of the Department of Attention to Citizenship and Civil Society Organizations attached to the General Directorate of Human Rights Education, as well as a field visit to Rancho Santa Cristina, a company affiliated with AMHPAC that shared the Social Responsibility practices it applies in its day-to-day operations.
During the event, our team was able to hear the opinions of personnel in charge of social responsibility programs at agricultural companies in different parts of Mexico, as well as other professionals in the field. Many of those present made very positive comments about Sinaloa’s producers in terms of their social responsibility programs. They spoke of the different programs and the quality of the facilities of the shelters they own.
Some of the representatives of the Social Responsibility area of the agricultural companies in Sinaloa that belong to the Veggies From Mexico Community shared the services that the companies have such as excellent quality shelters with childcare areas, daycare centers with hygiene and care programs for the children of workers, nutrition and food according to the age of the children, we could also see that some companies have within their shelters with primary and secondary schools, medical offices, water purification, and purification plants for the use and consumption of workers and their families, sanitary facilities, showers and sinks, recreational areas, garbage collection services. Some companies have community kitchens with kitchens and equipment for the preservation and preparation of good quality food. Others integrate space for workers to prepare food in their living areas, providing them with a small stove and gas cylinder. These good living conditions offered by the companies have had an impact on the quality of life of their migrant workers; they have also led to a significant decrease in staff turnover. Some have more than a 90% return rate for their casual workers year after year.
“We can say that Sinaloa producers have implemented very good social responsibility programs, we can see this in the low workforce turnover in their farms, every year more and more workers return to their facilities to work, we can find several generations, families working in their facilities.”
“We have always seen Sinaloa at another level, they are very competitive companies”.
Sinaloa, like other states in the country, has producers certified in Social Responsibility and others in the development of social programs that allow their growth and legal compliance.
As Veggies from Mexico, we believe that training is a key to improving the practices of the agricultural industry in Mexico, so we were very pleased to share our experiences with AMHPAC member companies in this Symposium on Agricultural Social Responsibility, as well as with our fellow farmers from other states of Mexico.
As part of this Symposium, a press conference was also held, led by the leaders of the main national industry organizations, who together seek the welfare of the Mexican countryside and agricultural laborers.
Guillermo Jimenez Cardenas – President of AMHPAC, Alfredo Diaz Belmontes – General Director of AMHPAC, Aldo Mares Benavides – Vice President of Labor Welfare of the CNA, Jose Luis Bustamante Fernandez – President of ANEBERRIES, Juan Jose Flores Garcia – Director of ANEBERRIES, Antonio Mendizabal Gonzalez – Institutional Liaison of AHIFORES, Mario Puente Raya – Director of AMSAC, Esther Escarzaga Garcia – Strategic Alliances and Field Rescue for the BAMX and David Careaga – Director of the AARC.
They pointed out that the main challenges facing the sector are: the labor deficit, foreign trade conditions, and the certifications that agribusinesses must-have. They also emphasized that there are opportunities for improvement in regulatory compliance.
The President of AMHPAC stressed that “today the agricultural sector in Mexico is being seen more than ever as the engine of economic and social development that it truly is. Therefore the focus must return to the most essential thing that we have as agricultural companies, THE PEOPLE”.
To conclude the first day’s activities, Guillermo Jimenez invited all the companies present to continue promoting the culture of Social Responsibility every day so that it becomes a natural behavior of the sector and Mexico and to be an example for others.