Mr. Alejo Camacho has produced broilers for To-Ricos' processing plant from his farm in Aibonito since 1988. That year, Puerto Rico Farm Credit provided financing for the acquisition of a 35-cuerdas farm with capacity for 45,000 chicks. His success and keen knowledge of the industry allowed for a second loan, in 1992, for the construction of another poultry barn which took his operation to approximately 70,000 pullets per flock.
When To-Ricos expanded its operation in 1997, Mr. Camacho came to PRFC for the financial support needed to scale up his business to 102,000 chicks per flock, which would make him one of the largest To-Ricos growers. At that time, he also decided to apply the latest technology available to increase efficiency and improve yield. Because of his solid business case, PRFC willingly supported him.
"I appreciate their honesty when analyzing and commenting on my ideas," says Mr. Camacho. "I can say that in PRFC I have my best consultants. They help when my proposals are good, but they also give honest advice if what I want doesn't make business sense." His entrepreneurial experience also includes cattle ranching and commercial property management.
The 1997 venture included the construction of new poultry barns with tunnel ventilation, a technology that has a direct impact in the yield capacity of each flock. "We are able to increase yield by controlling temperature, weight and amount of feed for each flock," Mr. Camacho says. "The ventilation system allows us to reach the temperature in which the flock is more comfortable and healthy, and use that as a factor in obtaining ideal weight and cost-efficiency in feed consumption."
In the following years, Mr. Camacho has approached PRFC for new developments in his operation. He continues to look into technology as a means to improve his business, including a solar panels system installed in 2012 that provides all of the electricity needed on his property. This project was, once again, financed by Puerto Rico Farm Credit.
Today, Mr. Camacho's contract with To-Ricos is for 148,000 chicks per flock. His expertise and vision has earned the admiration of other growers and To-Ricos' management, which is why he has presided over To-Ricos' Poultry Farmers Association for the last 15 years. Camacho is also committed to providing support to other growers in his spare time, offering suggestions about how to improve yield as well as helping them find the equipment at the lowest price possible.
With more than 25 years of experience in the poultry business, Mr. Camacho has seen the industry's ups and downs. But, always with the big picture in mind, he remains an enthusiast of agro-industries in Puerto Rico. His newest endeavor, adding 98,000-chicks-per-flock to his poultry ranch, is the perfect example.
This endeavor is special, since it marks the official induction of his youngest daughter, María Alejandra, into the business. This transition was backed by PRFC's Young, Beginning and Small Farmer Program, which facilitates financing and farming transition for younger farmers.
"She has helped me sporadically throughout the years while attending school and college with studies in accounting, but now she will be in charge of the new development," Mr. Camacho says of his daughter. "I'm really happy. It's part of the cycle of life, to guide the young ones into the business. I see she has the determination and the ability for this. Interestingly, I have seen how other farmers are leaving their operations in the hands of the next generation—and more young women are taking interest in the industry." Mr. Camacho will remain in charge of the original ranch.
"It will be easier for her than it was for me," Mr. Camacho says. María will have his support and supervision. Also, he adds, she already can count on PRFC for financial advice. "I'm so grateful of PRFC," he says. I would not be here, and my business would not be so successful, if it were not for the fact that, years ago, they believed me when I said this was possible."
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