The Puerto Rico Techno Economic Corridor Inc. (PRTEC) has announced a new public private partnership initiative and the creation of a business incubator for young farmers and agricultural science students in Isabela, the Finca Explora Program: Agribusiness Incubator and Processing Center.
One of its partners is the Monsanto Company, whose contribution will consist of 120 acres of land and buildings with an estimated value of $1 million, located in their former Isabela Research Station, as well as providing technical consulting to ensure the program’s success, executives said Thursday.
“We have a strong bond with the municipality of Isabela, because we had our operations there for three decades and created a solid relationship with our community,” said Mike Graham, Global Breeding Lead for Monsanto Company. “Therefore, we wanted to leave a legacy and establish a structure where we could continue transferring our knowledge in technology and innovation.”
“We decided that the best use for our 120 acres of land and buildings from our Isabela farm would be to create an innovative agricultural economic development program that would support young up-and-coming scientists and farmers with the desire to make Agriculture an important part of Puerto Rico’s economic force. We appreciate PRTEC’s support in making this program a reality,” Graham said.
Finca Explora’s mission is to support local agribusinesses that are interested in developing innovative agricultural projects or research. These agricultural projects and businesses can be developed individually or with the support of the academia. The program will benefit three main categories of participants:
- Agricultural Science Students mainly from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez campus;
- Isabela residents who have micro agricultural projects;
- And established farmers looking to expand their businesses.
“Finca Expora represents a new chapter for PRTEC in our continuous efforts toward innovation and economic development in western Puerto Rico,” said Nelson Perea, executive director of PRTEC.
“As has been the case with all our other initiatives, Finca Explora will take advantage of our relationships and strategic partners to continue to work in collaborations that in the end will help us be successful in this new endeavor,” he added.
In addition to providing the land, Finca Explora will provide business mentoring and technical assistance and support in agricultural operational issues. The program will be seeking money for its Seed Fund, and urged other organizations interested in supporting agricultural projects to invest.
Strategic partners of the program include: UPR- Mayagüez, the Municipality of Isabela, USDA, PRDA, Monsanto among others. The program is expected to start operations during the third trimester of 2017.