Finca Explora Program is the first agrotechnological incubator in Puerto Rico
ISABELA, PR – The Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor (PRTEC), recently opened Finca Explora, the first agrotechnological incubator in Puerto Rico. For this reason, PRTEC held a presentation at Finca Explora’s new facilities in Isabela, which are worth $1 million. These facilities came from a donation that PRTEC received from Monsanto in June 2017.
“We are grateful to Monsanto for their donation, which facilitated and advanced our wishes and plans of contributing even more aggressively in the incubation of agricultural businesses and the capitalization of technology,” said Nelson Perea, executive director of the PRTEC.
Through the years, PRTEC has collaborated in the development of new agricultural businesses such as Kairos Coffee, Bahari Chocolates and Panawest breadfruit chips, just to name a few. Finca Explora began partial operations in December 2017 with the first three tenants from its acceleration program. They include Duamed Colón of Agrotropical, Reinaldo Acevedo of Agriwest, and Carlos Torres of Empresas Torres.
Perea also stated that PRTEC recently submitted a proposal for $68,000 to the Rural Development Federal Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, which was approved under the Rural Business Development Grant program. With those funds, Finca Explora hired agronomist Vilmaris Bracero as project manager, a full-time position. These funds will also be used to elaborate Finca Explora’s long-term strategic plans, which will be developed by Sequilibre, and agriculture business workshops offered by the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC).
Fifteen participants have already registered in those workshops, while 12 of them are finalizing their business plans to proceed with land distribution at
Finca Explora and start planting crops such as sweet corn, sweet potato, taro, pineapple, passion fruit, peppers, white beans, and pumpkins, as well as cover crops, vegetables, and spices. PRTEC indicated that it has identified other sources of additional funds to gather more resources and secure the project’s self-sufficiency.
“Isabela is Monsanto’s second home in Puerto Rico,” shared Agro. Eric Torres, FTO Manager at Monsanto Caribe “For more than 30 years, the company operated there, and we are delighted to continue collaborating and contributing to what were our neighboring communities. Through the Finca Explora Program we have the opportunity to continue our legacy of support for Municipality of Isabela, and the northwestern region of Puerto Rico. We appreciate the opportunity that PRTEC has extended to us to make this program a reality and reaffirm our commitment to agriculture in Puerto Rico.”
During the event, it was noted that over the past few months, PRTEC has collaborated closely with the Municipality of Isabela, the Agricultural Experimental Station of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and Monsanto. The first two helped in the removal of debris after the hurricane and provided generators and equipment to restore the farm and prepare the grounds. Through its volunteer program Monsanto Together, Monsanto brought over 17 of its employees to Finca Explora’s facilities in Isabela to paint the organization’s buildings.
“Agriculture is our reason for being, our mission and our passion,” expressed Miguel Pereira, Monsanto’s Puerto Rico Community Affairs Manager. “We reaffirm our commitment to collaborate with the development of agriculture – in Puerto Rico and around the world – offering farmers the tools and solutions they need. To the projects that culminated the acceleration program, congratulations, and to the projects working the incubation program, godspeed.”
To support its mission, Finca Explora counts with an advisory board made of agriculture ecosystem experts. Among these experts are Eric Torres of Monsanto, Dr. Alexandra Gregory of the UPR’s Mayagüez campus, Julio Colón, regional director of the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, José López of Informe Agrícola, and Jorge Ramírez, agricultural consultant and part of Walmart’s Small Farmers Program.
Finca Explora’s future plans include working on energy and environmental self-sufficiency projects such as the installation of solar panels, restoring a well at the property and installing a water tank.
About Finca Explora
Finca Explora offers the following services:
- Rent of farm land to farm innovative products
- Equipment and project staff for land preparation
- Access to underground irrigation system that feeds from various water sources
- Business workshops related to agriculture
- Office spaces, conference room, research laboratories, warehouse, and packing space
- Use of the repair shop for project participants
- Equipment rental and personnel for small farmers in the area
- Co-working spaces for pre-incubation stage projects and other agro-entrepreneurs who already have their own land
- Access to financing sources, incentives, and technical support from Finca Explora’s strategic partners
PRTEC was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2001. Its membership consists of representatives from the industry, municipalities, academia and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce. PRTEC fosters Puerto Rico’s economic development, particularly that of the western region, emphasizing the commercialization of new and innovative technologies.
PRTEC’s vision of the region is an ideal environment and particularly attractive that promotes innovation, development, and commercialization in the world’s economy. Its mission is to enable Puerto Rico’s economic development, with emphasis on the commercialization of new and innovative technologies.
PRTEC’s objectives are:
- To help Puerto Rico be recognized as a technological center of excellence in the world
- To improve the quality of life of residents in Puerto Rico, making it a better place to live and work.
- To help create jobs and keep current positions
- Attract new businesses
- Support a research and development tradition
- Support the development of an entrepreneurial culture
About Monsanto Caribe
Since 1998, Monsanto Caribe LLC has been part of the Puerto Rican seed breeding industry, using the tools of modern biology to help farmers successfully feed, clothe, and fuel our growing world. Monsanto’s operations on the island consist of agricultural biotechnology research and development of the best corn, cotton, and soy seeds for farmers. The objective is to find the most desirable traits to improve crops and develop new seed with such traits. In Puerto Rico, the company has earned such honors as the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Los Mejores Patronos en Puerto Rico Award in the Medium Business Category, as well as being inducted in the Puerto Rican Agriculture Hall of Fame in April of 2013. Monsanto Caribe was also awarded the 2018 CEIBA Award from the Southern Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (CCSPR) in the Agriculture Category, for its contribution to the region’s economy and for its corporate social responsibility programs.To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: www.monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter® at www.twitter.com/MonsantoCo. For information in Spanish, please visit www.monsanto.pr, and follow our business on Facebook® at facebook.com/monsantopuertorico.