Interview: Chrysthian Marisol Castro Sandoval – Agrícola BelHer

Marisol holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Experimental Biology. She has been working for Agrícola BelHer for the last 5 years, and started in the Tech Innovation area and currently, she is the Food Safety and Social Responsibility Manager.

Marisol is a very committed technician who is widely known among technicians from farming companies in the Culiacan Valley, as she is always willing to help and provides very valuable contributions year after year on Eleven Rivers Growers certification scheme and operation rules. Last season, she helped us as a speaker in the annual training program with the course: Axis 1 Implementation – Process Quality System.

Interviewed by Eleven Rivers, Marisol shares with us a little bit of her experience in the farming sector, and some of the main professional challenges she has faced in order to achieve a change in organizational culture at Agrícola BelHer, and the continuous work this company has been carried out to promote good practices in terms of Food Safety and Social Responsibility.

In terms of Social Responsibility, Marisol states that a company investing in social responsibility becomes more profitable and competitive. In the case of farming companies, it helps reducing personnel rotation and achieves rooting among workers; which is very valuable as the lack of labor in both field and packaging facilities represents one of the main challenges in the sector.

Agrícola BelHer generates strategies to always stay in compliance with labor regulations, healthcare, and quality of life for workers and their families; especially the conditions of infrastructure in shelters and childcare facilities.

These strategies range from decent housing for our workers, Childcare facilities for the children of migrating labor workers; including the hot breakfast program in cooperation with Fundación Un Kilo de Ayuda for early child development, breastfeeding facility for labor female workers, leisure activities of our farming workers, such as birthday celebrations, Christmas parties, among other many activities the company develops to ensure that our employees feel happy and have a better quality of life for them and their families.

In terms of food safety, she has also faced a few challenges: one of them has been to “align her knowledge in helping the company to develop processes already existing, and implement those that are new.” Marisol says that in order to comply with the requirements demanded by commercial certifications, she has had to learn, in addition to food safety, other subjects and concepts such as total quality management, labor and environmental regulations, and farming practices with an approach in social responsibility.

“In order to create an organizational culture, work should be needed continuously on training. She agrees that one of the main professional challenges has been precisely to convey the importance of implementation of best agricultural practices, since most people are resisting change”. In order to achieve this, one of the main cornerstones is commitment of business owners and senior management. This is why it is important to generate constant training and communication dynamics with all employees of the company; at Agrícola BelHer, you can notice personnel training standing out, which goes from operational areas to mid-level management positions, we can improve our skills in specialized courses, but also, replicating these and training in various subjects to personnel internally, are part of the work routine.

She states that the main tools being used by Agrícola BelHer to achieve this organizational culture are: internal audits, monitoring, and process verification, which have become a key cornerstone.

Marisol shares that Food Safety Management certifications, other than being a requirement from the client, help verifying the level of compliance in legal, food safety, labor, and environmental matters. They give us a complete and unbiased insight from a third-party professional with expertise in the agri-food sector, and in turn, this is supported by an accredited certification body.

In certifications, I always emphasize that the Eleven Rivers Growers Certification Scheme is a very complete program, it is also complex for how strong it is, but, it is a custom-made program for the farming sector, and it has also been developed in agreement with the subjects being required by our clients, which are quality and food safe products, increasing every day, with the requirement to comply with labor and environmental matters.

“Being in compliance with Eleven Rivers Growers makes the culture of compliance and implementing other private certificate schemes easier.”

Last season, I was a speaker at the Eleven Rivers Training Program, which was a pleasant experience. It was very rewarding for me to be a part of it, but especially, to learn from the experience of colleagues working in the Eleven Rivers Growers implementation in other farming companies. I always say that we do not know everything, and there is always room for learning new things.

In conclusion, I would like to thank mostly to managers and colleagues at Agrícola Belher for their support, trust, and patience. To the entire team at Eleven Rivers Growers, thank you for this interview and for the opportunity to be a part of your training program as a speaker, as well as to congratulate them for the excellent work being done with the scheme.