Finca Explora program, 1st agrotechnological incubator in P.R., opens
The Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor recently opened Finca Explora, the first agrotechnological incubator in Puerto Rico, located in Isabela. Finca Explora’s new facilities are worth $1 million, company executives said.
These facilities were built using 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 U.S. Rural Development Agency, 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.
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 has identified other sources of additional funds to gather more resources and secure the project’s self-sufficiency.
“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,” said Eric Torres, FTO Manager at Monsanto Caribe.
Over the past few months, PRTEC has collaborated closely with the Municipality of Isabela, the Agricultural Experimental Station of the University of Puerto Rico and Monsanto. The first two helped in the removal of debris after the September hurricanes and provided generators and equipment to restore the farm and prepare the grounds.
Through its volunteer program “Monsanto Together,” Monsanto brought more than 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.”