Cooperative Agriculture in Puerto Rico

Cooperative Agriculture in Puerto Rico

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

By Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

The union of agriculture and cooperativism is necessary to establish in Puerto Rico a robust national economy based on social justice, say the directors and members of the Agrocomercial Cooperative.

Cooperative Agriculture Rebounds in Puerto Rico

The union of agriculture and cooperativism is necessary to establish in Puerto Rico a robust national economy based on social justice, say the directors and members of the Agrocomercial Cooperative.

In December 2004, the cooperative, also known as La Márketin, celebrated its 70th anniversary with an agricultural fair in Cayey. There were farmers from the country selling products such as china (orange), banana, coffee, vegetables, recao and ornamental and medicinal plants directly to consumers, as well as food cooked on the stove.

It was a propitious moment to recall the history of the cooperative. It arose in the period of the tobacco boom, when the large tobacco companies in the United States, such as American Tabacco, Consolidated, and General Cigar, paid the small Puerto Rican farmer a pittance for their product. It was "divide and conquer", each tobacco farmer taking on the big corporate octopus on his own.

In the 1910s and 1920s, tobacco growers began to organize to defend their interests collectively under the banner of cooperativism. And in August 1934 the Puerto Rico Tobacco Marketing Cooperative Association was founded (by then the government did not incorporate any institution in Spanish). Eventually she became known simply as the "Márketin".

"This cooperative was formed by tobacco farmers to unite and market their product, and together have bargaining power against the American corporations that came in the first half of the 20th century to control the tobacco market," said the agronomist José A. Cosme Ortega , president of the board of directors.

The Puerto Rican tobacco industry died a slow death in the following decades due to several factors, among them a supply that exceeded demand and changes in the tastes of smokers. The Márketin was renamed Cooperativa Agrocomercial in the 1980s and exited the dying tobacco business. So he survived by participating in the real estate market, renting the land and buildings he owned all over the island.

But with the arrival of the new century, the cooperative was rebuilt and returned to agriculture fully, with Cosme presiding over the board and the agronomist Rafael A. Rivera Rosa as general manager.

A real alternative

In our meeting at the fair in Cayey, Cosme expressed that he wants the cooperative to be "a pillar in future agricultural development, towards a more technological, intensive and more economically profitable agriculture."

"The concept of agriculture as a way of life and subsistence has already gone down in history because it was the agricultural families that operated that type of agriculture. Today they have to be profitable companies," said Cosme.

The cooperative leader stated that institutions such as the League of Cooperatives and the Cooperative Development administration want to help agriculture and have the best of intentions but that they do not seem to have a notion that agriculture is a different type of economic activity.

These institutions "must overcome the bureaucratic phase, which is always the stone that hinders being more proactive. Because when you deal with agricultural projects you are dealing with living things, which are perishable. In agriculture, things have to be done when they have to be done, not tomorrow or the day before. People have to be clear about this concept so that decision-making is as agile as necessary for agricultural companies. "

"For me, cooperativism is a necessity in agriculture," said Cialeño coffee grower Tato Rodríguez, from the Frontón neighborhood. "The vast majority of coffee growers are small. The only way we could function well and with direct benefit to that small coffee grower is through cooperativism."
Rodríguez works in the creation of the cooperative's coffee, called Cibales, which is processed in a roasting in Frontón that belonged to Andrés Jiménez "El Jíbaro".

Rodríguez explained that it is convenient for the small farmer to grow several products and avoid monoculture, in which the farm is literally committed to a single product. In a polyculture if a crop fails due to economic factors or inclement weather, you still have other agricultural products to depend on. He gave as an example the banana, for which there is always a market and is produced all year round, unlike coffee, which can only be harvested at a certain time of year.

"Cooperativism is the only system within the legal framework in which we live that allows the farmer to have a decent life," declared the agronomist Rivera Rosa. He referred to other economic and legal systems such as that of China, where the relations of the producer with the market and the state are essentially different. But as far as possible in Puerto Rico, said the agronomist, cooperativism is the best option.

Rivera Rosa understands that in order to move agriculture forward, it is necessary to avoid the system of intermediaries that usually leave the farmer with only 10% of the money generated by his harvest. He gave as an example the case of the banana. "An intermediary comes and buys the entire crop from you for 15 cents each and sells it for 35."

According to Rivera Rosa, this exploitation is counteracted through agricultural markets where the producer and consumer do business directly, without the intervention of intermediaries. Also through cooperatives such as Agrocomercial which with their economies of scale make it possible to vertically integrate all phases of production, distribution and value addition for greater efficiency.

"Our status as a cooperative makes it possible for us to give incentives and subsidies for the acquisition of agricultural implements such as fertilizers at low cost and without paying taxes," said Rivera Rosa. "Through the exchange we have with international cooperatives, we can also supply some raw materials that currently the farmer pays at a premium."

"The eternal problem of this country is that the government, irrespective of parties, does not promote agriculture," denounced Carlos J. Román Hernández, vice president of the board of directors of Agrocomercial and president of its educational committee. "If I encouraged youth to establish modern agricultural enterprises, I would tell you that agriculture in Puerto Rico would be a real alternative to satisfy our immediate needs."

Román Hernández added that the government would promote agriculture if it understood that the most important asset of a country is its workforce. "If we do not encourage youth to see agriculture as a real alternative, we will have a dependent people waiting for coupons. Governments encourage maintenance and compete around who gives the most. And the one who gives the most is the one who gets the most votes. I think that is not the alternative.

"As cooperative members say, the important thing is not to give people fish every day, but to teach them how to fish. So that then people do not depend on anyone but themselves. That way we would have a decent people, who see work as something that dignifies. "

* CLARITY Weekly

Video: Two New Yorkers Give Puerto Rican Town The Ultimate Coffee Boost. NBC News (June 2022).


  1. Azarious

    Propertyman produced what then

  2. Shakinos

    In my opinion you commit an error. Let's discuss. Write to me in PM.

  3. Johanne

    I wanted to take another look, but damn it .. I didn't have time!

  4. Merlin

    And it can be paraphrased?

  5. Yozilkree

    I apologize that I cannot help with anything. I hope you will be of help here.

  6. Zulkilmaran

    The idea is amazing, I support it.

  7. Uptun

    I think you will allow the mistake. Write to me in PM.

  8. Gardanos

    Here are the ones on! The first time I've heard!

Write a message