Agriculture Secretary Carlos Flores announced the recent expansion of the F&F Hydroponics agricultural project in Ciales, with a contribution of $250,000 from the agency’s Farm Investment Program, adding 13 new jobs to the agricultural region of Utuado.
The project that specializes in growing a variety of the “salanovas” lettuce variety in structures featuring a controlled environment recovered after Hurricane María and got the approval of the program’s maximum contribution, Flores said.
The project expansion includes a 5,280 square-foot controlled environment structure with automated irrigation system, rainwater collection, plastic covers, screen shading, air circulators, NFT tables with benches and channels. For this structure, the Department provided $178,065.64 in investment, which represents 50% of its value.
“Before the hurricane, F&F Hydroponics cut about 10,000 heads of lettuce weekly and today, they’re reporting 18,000. The expectations is that in less than a year, they should be doubling that number,” he said.
The local Agriculture Department’s Economic and Farming Development Committee evaluated and favorably recommended F&F Hydroponics’ proposal to expand its facilities, increase production and add jobs to the region, according to the Farm Investment Program’s regulation, he said.
“This project highlights the momentum of one of the strategic areas that the Agriculture Department continues to use as a model to promote increased local production,” Flores said.
“Science and technology are key elements in the development of a competitive local agriculture through controlled-environment projects like this. Puerto Rico can produce more, at a higher quality and using less space,” said Flores.