Alejandro Plascencia Espejo is a Biochemical Engineer and for the last 10 years he has been the Certifications Manager at Agroexportadora del Noroeste, a farming company.
Interviewed by Eleven Rivers Growers, Alejandro shares his experience in the farming field, the most important challenges he has faced and the benefits of having food safety and social responsibility certifications for the farming industry.
Throughout these years, I have learned many things in this sector, in all the areas in which I am involved; from production until produce merchandising. I have benefited from the learning of all working areas and also from learning about their processes.
Very important, I would say. It plays a major role within farming companies, as it is the most effective manner to work with your personnel, your processes in the field and packaging facility.
The responsible behavior involves all the members of an organization, with the purpose of producing and merchandising safe food.
The behavior of the members participating throughout the entire food supply chain generates safe food, which is why we are not discussing food safety programs, but rather a food safety culture. We develop training activities for all our employees with various food safety subjects, both field and packaging related.
We have many good social responsibility practices within our organization; for example, in the health sector, we have a doctor’s office and medical attention for all the people living in our housing facilities.
In my experience, it has been very satisfying since I have a great team within the organization, and we always achieve the goals that we set for ourselves. It helps the company adhere to international standards and reinforce us as an organization in the international market.
Labor in the field is a very important challenge in this sector, because year after year it becomes more difficult to bring people to work in the field. So, I believe it is a challenge for farmers to continue improving their social responsibility practices being in place for many years in farming companies.
I believe that foreign markets are demanding more requirements on HR matters these days: how do people live within a farming company, how farming companies are committed to their personnel, if they live well, if facilities are adequate, if children have education supported by the company. In health matters, it is very important that companies have health facilities for all their personnel, the subject of food safety is essential on a daily basis; but foreign markets, in my opinion, are giving high priority to companies having social responsibility programs or schemes.
Well, the subject now is social responsibility. It has helped benefiting workers in many aspects such as education, health, infrastructure within the areas, compliance with government regulations, salaries, hours worked, moving from their city of origin, and everything starts from there. And training is fundamental so that all personnel are aware of food safety issues, fair treatment, among many other things.
Personally, I think this program keeps us as an organization in a state of continuous compliance with our processes.
I want to thank the entire Agroex team since we all contribute to an enormous effort so that improvement is continuous, and especially to Eng. Jose Maria Pablos since we have always found great support in him on food safety and social responsibility subjects.