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Honduras: Melons creating employmentThursday, January 08, 2015 > 10:18:43
The melon season in southern Honduras has created approximately 10,000 temporary jobs; labourers who every day strive to show the country's best face to the world.
These jobs will ensure a good livelihood for an equal number of families for three months, which is how long each cycle lasts. Germán García, employee of Agroindustrial del Melón, said he has been working in the production of melons for about 10 years.
"I believe that this agricultural product creates the greatest number of temporary jobs in the most vulnerable areas, giving hope for many families living in inland communities," said the worker.
Antonio Oviedo, production manager of the melon growing company Agrolíbano, said that the fruit reaches its productive peak in summer, and thus preparatory work begins from mid-October. According to Oviedo, his company alone generates approximately 50% of the labour opportunities during the season, i.e. approximately 5,000 temporary jobs.
Of the total 10,000 jobs, 7,000 to 8,000 correspond to field work and the rest to packaging, all taking place during three production cycles, starting in August and ending in July each year. The season starts on 1 August with the preparation of the soil and the crop's planting so that, by the summer of the following year, everything is ready.
Oviedo explained that the season concludes in late July each year with the packaging and maintenance of the machinery. Despite the fact that most of the employment generated is temporary, there are jobs available for almost 11 months.
During the peak of the production season, a total of 700 people per day are required in the field and 400 in packing at just one of the company's facilities, which are spread around several municipalities of Valle and Choluteca. They cultivate around 2,817 hectares of land per cycle, whose production is shipped mostly abroad. Agrolíbano's lands produce about 80 million melons throughout the season, while other companies produce some 40 million more.
These fruits are exported to the U.S. and Europe, said Oviedo, and there are new export markets such as Singapore, Dubai; additionally, negotiations are underway to enter the Japanese market.
The melon production is estimated to be increasing by 3 to 4% on average per season. Companies aim to reach an acreage of 3,522 hectares by 2020, which would generate even more jobs. The varieties produced in southern Honduras are mainly white, Galia and yellow melon, as well as Italian and Piel de Sapo.