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New Hecho en Puerto Rico Association president aims to boost agriculture

Mateo Cidre plans to reduce food imports and increase local food production.

Mateo Cidre, the newly appointed president of the Hecho en Puerto Rico Association, which is dedicated to supporting locally produced goods and services, shared some of his plans for the year, including focusing on boosting the agriculture sector and increasing food production.

“I see Hecho en Puerto Rico as a bridge,” Cidre said in an interview with News is my Business. “A bridge between our members and how they can get to where they want to go. I used to be the president of the [Puerto Rico] Restaurant Association and I am bringing with me some of the needs that I know Hecho en Puerto Rico will be able to cover.” 

“We have to find a way to create alliances so that the 87% of what we [import] can be reduced. This is very important because Hecho in Puerto Rico could be that link, that bridge to be able to achieve it,” he emphasized.

Cidre suggested that forming an alliance between Hecho en Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Restaurant Association could reduce the 87% reliance on imported food. By promoting the consumption of locally made products, the partnership would result in consumers purchasing more locally produced food.

“I call it an agro-industry because, for me, it is very important that it is emphasized in the entire food supply chain,” he said. “That agronomists produce packages based on the needs of what is being sought by consumers and that it can be provided when needed.”

For example, Cidre said, local agronomists should feel motivated to package lettuce in the same way it is packaged in other places that supply lettuce to the island.

“We have to find the way to motivate agronomists so they can package things in a way that it will be consumed here, because we can’t change the way that things are sold now,” Cidre said, stressing that agronomists need to adapt to consumers’ current needs.

In addition, he said that he wants the Hecho en Puerto Rico Association to have more oversight over the Hecho en Puerto Rico seal. “You have to represent your product, and it has to be a top-notch product,” he said.

“We have to make sure that those using the seal are one of our partners and have been approved to use the seal,” he continued, adding that the association needs to ensure that every partner using the seal fits “all the standards that represent being a part of Hecho en Puerto Rico.”

“The standards are: the product’s quality, the availability of the product and the significance of the product,” Cidre detailed.

Cidre reiterated that he wants to focus on the 87% of food that is being imported to the island, which he called “a great challenge.”

“I think we lived through that when the war in Ukraine started. We found ourselves a bit tight in terms of the internal supply, and we need to tackle that and depend less on having things imported and depend more on what is local,” he added.

Author Details
Author Details
Maria Miranda is an investigative reporter and editor with 20 years of experience in Puerto Rico’s English-language newspapers. In that capacity, she has worked on long-term projects and has covered breaking news under strict deadlines. She is proficient at mining data from public databases and interviewing people (both public figures and private sector individuals). She is also a translator, and has edited and translated an economy book on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. She worked as an interpreter for FEMA during the recent recovery efforts of Hurricane María and earned her FEMA badge.

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