Fuerza PyME Holds First Expo for Agricultural SMEs
SAN JUAN — Following the recently announced agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Puerto Rico government to increase the participation of small & midsize agricultural businesses in the federal agency’s programs, the first edition of Expo Fuerza PyME for local farmers and entrepreneurs in the agricultural industry took place Thursday at the Ponce Convention Center.
Held by the Puerto Rico Trade & Export Co. and the House of Representatives’ Fuerza PyME, a support program for local small and misdize enterprises (SMEs), attendees of the event had the opportunity to learn about such topics as financing for SMEs in rural areas; programs and incentives available through the USDA; export of agricultural products; agricultural markets; and opportunities for young entrepreneurs in this industry, among others.
“With this action, we seek to guide agricultural SMEs on how they can participate in programs administered by the USDA, including access to financing programs,” said House Speaker Jaime Perelló.
The lower chamber’s leader went over the benefits provided by the Support to Micro, Small and Midsize Businesses Act, or Act 62 of 2014, including the granting of use permits in a 24-hour period; access to a 30% reserve under government purchases; a government preferential rent program; and payroll subsidies, among others.
For her part, Agriculture Secretary Myrna Comás talked about the issue of food security during the event. “Food safety is everyone’s responsibility and, today, the USDA reaffirms its commitment to this. Together, we work to optimize the use of our natural resources, promote technology adoption and facilitate networking,” she said.
Trade & Export Co. Executive Director Francisco Chévere added that the event fosters the development of a more diversified local economy, as well as the creation of jobs in this sector.
Several local and federal government officials, as well as various Puerto Rico politicians, participated in Thursday’s event. There have been 12 regional Fuerza PyME expos to date, with the participation of more than 10,000 people, according to the government.