Interview: Yolanda Rodríguez Rodríguez – Agrícola Chaparral

This time, we had the pleasure of interviewing Yolanda Rodríguez Rodríguez, one of the social workers from Agrícola Chaparral. She is well-known in the farming sector in Sinaloa for her high commitment to the significant work she performs.

Yolanda is a native of Culiacán and as a child she lived in a farming field, which later became her inspiration to turn herself into one of the best social workers, with a working history of 22 years. On the talk we had with her, she shares her insights about work, the most important professional challenges she has faced and her daily motivation.

1. Would you mind sharing with us your working history and how you started working for Agrícola Chaparral?

As a child I was a girl who lived in a farming field, I really liked it; those were beautiful years of my life, but even then I saw things that I would have liked to improve, and I always thought I wanted to study something which served me to help people. With that belief, I was studying and working back then.

My career as a Social Worker began 22 years ago, in Programa Nacional con Jornaleros Agrícolas (National Program for Farm Workers) from Sedesol (Ministry of Social Development), which has now disappeared. Without a doubt, it was a very good, noble program that gave me the first years of experience. I was there for 6 years, in which I was allocated to various farming fields.

I was allocated to Chaparral Field from Agrícola Chaparral, and this is how I came to work for this company. I remember looking at the company cars passing by and wondered, “Where is that field?” I never knew I would get there someday.

I worked for Sedesol for 2 seasons, but there was a personnel reduction in the program and I was laid off, among many of my colleagues. I continued for 2 seasons as a Social Worker of the company but eventually, I was laid off as soon as the season was over. Later, they hired me permanently. I was a field Social Worker for 3 years and then I was given the Coordination of Social Workers from the company. I have been employed for 15 years and, without a doubt, these have been my best years because I work for one of the best farming companies that currently exist.

2. What are the main challenges and the greatest satisfaction you find in working in the area of Social Responsibility?

The main challenges are: achieving a balance between the purposes of the company and the needs from our employees and their families.

It is also to be in compliance with the new requirements in the area of Social Responsibility and being able to manage with the Administration to always obtain good results in audits and be ready to act under any circumstances which may arise.

To me, without a doubt, the greatest satisfaction is being able to help people solve their needs. Although sometimes I don’t do it directly, I know I have an excellent Social Responsibility team, and I am doing it through them. Also, being aware that I am in a place where I am able to work in freedom and enjoy what I do.

3. Would you mind sharing with us how has the evolution of Social Responsibility practices in the farming industry been in your years of experience in the sector?

Today, there is decent infrastructure and services, there are proper areas for children’s daycare, they go to school, food is cooked on gas stoves, workers are given proper housing and each family has a house.

People’s mindset has changed: They are actively involved in all the programs made for their benefit; they make suggestions and demands when necessary; which is also a good thing.

4. What are the main Social Responsibility programs the company has in benefit of workers?

We have several programs including:

-Program of housing and decent services for workers and their families.

-Health program, with doctors’ offices, medications and personnel hired by the company.

-Education program, with classrooms, providing education from pre-school to high school and adult education.

-Childcare and attention program with daycare facilities.

-Food and supply program.

-Cultural and recreational program.

-Training program.

5. What would you think is the reason why Agrícola Chaparral has such low staff turnover and workers return year after year?

I believe we have low turnover mostly because we treat people well, we have good conditions in infrastructure and services, decent salaries, we are respectful of beliefs and diversity of habits. Also, because we are concerned about improving every day and to see our areas of opportunity, in order to correct the flaws we may be having at some point.

In general, it is because they like the company.

6. How important is continuous training for personnel and what benefits would you consider it has for the farming company?

Training is very important, so that workers become aware of important subjects; so they know how to act and how to prevent certain situations.

When it comes to labor, by continuously training the worker, they perform their activities better, have a higher performance which has a positive impact on their economy, they become experts in the activity they perform, which in turn is reflected in the company costs. It can be said that there are fewer losses, but most importantly, accident or damage prevention to the worker.

7. What are the prevention measures you have implemented to deal with the COVID-19 health problem?

The following measures have been developed since the beginning:

-Informational campaigns with talks, tarps, brochures, posters, etc.

-Hand washing and disinfection.

-Use of masks and personal protective equipment according to the activity.

-Temperature monitoring when entering the different areas.

-Signaling of social distance in common areas.

-Campaigns to sanitize homes, daycare facilities, common areas, etc.

-Home office with administrative staff is put into practice.

-Allocation of exclusive vehicles to transport suspected patients.

-Reduction of the number of people in transportation buses to the work areas.

8. Nowadays, consumers have changed and are now taking into account more factors when buying, how important do you think Social Responsibility is?

Social Responsibility is the grounds for the market. Now, for a company to sell its products, it goes beyond quality, of how it looks. Consumers today pay much attention to what is behind that product, they are more interested in learning how it was harvested, how is the life and work of the people producing it, if these practices are environmentally-friendly, etc.

Today, they are concerned about learning that the Rights from workers are being respect in every way, as well as the treatment being given to their families. Today, the vision and mindset of the consumer has changed.

9. Do you believe that improvements in terms of Social Responsibility have any relation to food safety and quality of farming companies?

Of course, everything is a whole. If you meet all the requirements, standards, protocols, etc. that you have to produce healthy and good quality products, from sowing, harvesting, packing until you reach the end consumer, you are putting Social Responsibility into practice.

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I just want to thank the opportunity being provided to me, to share a bit of my work expertise, and also recognizing the importance of having such an excellent Social Responsibility team that we have in the company, and also thanking the Executives for being concerned about improving every day the living and working conditions of our families.