The government of Puerto Rico announced Thursday the signing of a collaborative agreement with Arcos Dorados, the franchisee of the McDonald’s fast food chain, to enable the production of iceberg lettuce for the restaurant by local farmers.
The project represents a commitment by the Agriculture Department — which will provide technical support — and Arcos Dorados, which will finance the initiative that entails finding farmers to develop the lettuce project, as well as estabishing laboratory and research work.
Agriculture will identify potential farmers who will put up the lands on which to implement the initiative, with the goal of reducing imports while developing a self-sustaining model that will give small farmers and their families the chance to develop a long-term revenue source.
If the initiative has the expected success, production will be increased to cover local market demand, estimated at about 48,000 pounds of lettuce per month. Furthermore, an effective outcome could also lead to increasing lettuce production in Puerto Rico for exporting to other Caribbean and Central American companies.
“Everyone at Arcos Dorados is extremely proud to collaborate with the Government of Puerto Rico to head this initiative in support of local production,” said Marlene Fernández, vice president of government affairs for Arcos Dorados.
“We are delighted that this project will strengthen sustainable agricultural development in Puerto Rico and will result in big profits and a better quality of life for small farmers, their families and their communities, as well as the Puerto Rican people,” she said.
Producing iceberg lettuce usually requires cooler temperatures than those that occur in the tropics. So to make the local the production of iceberg lettuce possible, technology and experience is required, which Arcos Dorados will provide.
Secretary of State David Bernier, who took part in the agreement signing, said this initiative stems from a similar agreement reached in Peru for a project that was launched in 2010 and was called “Qorichacra.” The model is being adopted locally because of the benefit it represents for the economy of Puerto Rico.
“This combines three important elements: food security, economic development and the State Department’s new vision for foreign affairs,” he said.