© Rabo Rural Fund

Agricola Santa Amalia

Based in the valley of Comonfort in central Mexico, Agricola Santa Amalia is a privately owned farm focused on producing high-value lettuce and other horticultural products for export markets. Since receiving its first loan from CSAF member Rabo Rural Fund in early 2020, Santa Amalia has increased its revenue by 15% over the past year. Santa Amalia has progressively adopted a holistic approach to integrating social and environmental impact into its business model. The company pays above minimum wages and provides social security benefits to its 150 permanent workers. Job creation is particularly important in the region where Santa Amalia operates, as it is an area prone to migration. Most of Santa Amalia’s workers are women living in remote areas with few formal employment opportunities. Free breakfast, with healthy food, is provided daily to all staff; there is also a small tortilla plant from which staff can take home tortillas for their families. Currently, 15% of the farming area is certified organic, with another 11% in transition to organic production. With the recent financing from Rabo Rural Fund, the organic-certified area is expected to increase by 5% annually. The environmental benefits of shifting to organic production align with the business economics: organic lettuce sells for twice the price of conventional lettuce. The shift to organic is just one aspect of a more holistic environmental approach. The farm also grows corn and beans as rotation crops to balance the nutrients in the soil during the non-growing season for lettuce. It has implemented precision irrigation equipment to minimize water use and promotes biodiversity by planting indigenous trees, which attract birds and act as windbreaks, as well as flowering plants that sustain pollinators. Santa Amalia’s management team views these practices as long-term investments in a business that is good for both people and planet.

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