Guayanilla, Puerto Rico
Just a few miles off the warm and southern coastal region of the Island, Fulgencio Rodríguez and his family carry out their daily passion at Rico Banana, a banana farm and processing operation that provides the local market more than 200,000 cases annually. His sons, Fulgencio Jr. and Wigberto, represent the family’s second generation overseeing this extraordinary agribusiness Project located on 238 acres in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico. Both sons work on diverse areas of the business and supervise daily operations including: planting and harvesting, general field operations, ripening processes of the product prior to leaving the farm and distribution.
Rico Banana’s facilities feature state-of-the-art and world class Banana Ripening Chamber. This type of infrastructure is the only one available in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, boasting European innovation technology that allows for precise ripening processes depending on customer preferences, while preserving its flavor, the banana’s product quality and shelf life.
The current investments for this project have been feasible with the support of Puerto Rico Farm Credit, who has been working alongside these clients since 2014. The resulting expansion has enabled the Rodríguez family to double its staff to 60 employees including agronomists who work in various phases of the agribusiness project. Fulgencio Rodríguez has more than 46 years of experience in banana farming and harvesting. Rico Banana currently supplies bananas to the local market, as well as the Puerto Rico Department of Education and WIC programs.
Rico Banana recently expanded its distribution facilities acquiring a 6,000 sq. ft. building in Cayey, to enable efficient access to supermarket chains, clients and consumers in the San Juan Metropolitan area, as well as the northern and southern regions of the Island. In addition to this distribution center, Rico Banana’s processing facilities in Guayanilla currently account for more than 18,000 sq. ft.
Puerto Rico Farm Credit has been instrumental in facilitating this agribusiness with a $1,000,000 loan for the acquisition of the distribution center, as well as credit lines for investments in technology and other project improvements. Collectively, this support has enabled Rico Banana’s consistent growth and solid positioning in the market.
Fulgencio Rodríguez said “Puerto Rico Farm Credit is the only banking institution on the Island that understands agribusiness and can provide the specific support the agricultural sector needs to truly accomplish a sustainable revamping of this vital economic factor in Puerto Rico. “Without the help of Puerto Rico Farm Credit, these projects would have not been feasible, nor the planned growth we have moving forward”.