Yucatan will have a plant with the necessary engineering to process habanero pepper in order to obtain the spicy molecule called Capsaicin, which will be used by the pharmaceutical industry and will give an important added value to the production of this vegetable.
Guided by those who lead the project in charge of the company Open and Protected Agriculture of the Peninsula, Francisco Irazoqui Galaviz and José María Sabín Sabín, the head of the Ministry of Economic Development (Sefoe), Ernesto Herrera Novelo, toured the farmland.
“We have the engineering to get the molecule, which has different uses, including pharmaceutical. Among other applications, it serves to treat wood and prevent pests, as protection for fiber optic cables, for the prodution of self-defense pepper sprays, and it has medicinal uses as it relieves pain and reduces inflammation, “explained Irazoqui Galaviz.
The entrepreneur explained that they worked for five years in a system that is technically and financially profitable to achieve a hybrid between greenhouse and shade mesh, with hydroponic production equipment, located in Hoctún.
“We started working on how to industrialize habanero pepper, but first we invested in the construction of high-tech greenhouses. It is important to mention that there was no engineering and we had to create it, there was little research and we needed harvesting all year round in order to obtain as much capsaicin as possible” he explained.
Currently, the company owns an area of 11.5 hectares in Homún, harvesting an estimated of 80 tons per hectare per year, which is marketed fresh in Europe, the United States and in the national market. Irazoqui Galaviz expects the processing plant to be fully operational by the end of next year. The construction work has a 50% advance, while the installation of machinery and equipment shows an advance of 40%.
“At the moment of starting to operate, we will work with 100 hectares, but we will need an installed capacity of 1,000 hectares to produce between 60,000 and 80,000 tons per year; we plan to achieve these figures by planting Habanero in Yucatán, Sinaloa and San Luis Potosí” he said.
Regarding the commercialization of the molecule, he pointed out that “everything is exported, because we have not been able to arouse interest in the national market. We have commercial understandings through the additions of the embassies in Mexico, Spain, Germany and the United States. ”
So far, Open and Protected Agriculture of the Peninsula has 150 permanent employees and expects to increase its workforce to 1,500 when they begin operations of the plant.
“We have a very professional team working out in the fields and within the industry, with many young people who have been trained and involved with the project,” he shared. In turn, he added that in Yucatan, Mexico and the world, the company is the only one of its kind existant in the area, since it currently produces capsaicin for laboratory purposes, but not industrial or commercial.
“We knew it was a very difficult molecule to reach, but we wanted to do something because the habanero pepper is an icon of our state and the research works of the pharmaceutical industry for health problems are very advanced, only the molecule was missing. We thought it was a dream that we could achieve and we achieved it, ” Irazoqui Galaviz concluded.
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