Porfirio Muñoz Cruz views life with the wisdom that comes with age. Born in 1939 in Tenosique, his existence can be summed up in two words: rural life.
For more than 60 years, this man with an unhurried gait has sown dozens of different kinds of fruit. The ones he remembers best are corn, beans, rice and cassava. In 2000, a government program opened the door to one of the most productive and profitable fruits he has grown: the oil palm, which has had a transformative impact on his life.
Porfirio never went to college, although he can read and write – and numbers are his greatest strength. He is disciplined and every morning before dawn, he goes out with his notebook and pencil and walks through the palms planted on his 10-hectare plot. He knows how many bunches are on each tree. He calculates when he will need to hire staff to cut the fruit. He does calculations to find out necessary costs and potential profits. As a country man, he appreciates and respects rural life.
Currently a resident of Balancán, a small community in the southeastern Mexican state of Tabasco, he says that oil palm is one of his favorite fruit trees to grow. The reason? “You never lose. It always produces. And with the advice we are getting now, plantations are looking better, the fruit is better, and although last year was difficult, things have turned out well.”
He is currently in a certification program sponsored by Oleopalma for its smallholder suppliers. RSPO certification aims to reduce the environmental impacts of oil palm growing while simultaneously increasing production. Achieving certification means achieving a balance between industry, nature and producers.
Oil palm is one of southeastern Mexico’s most common crops, this is because of its high level of profitability, given that palms are capable of generating fruit for 25 years provided that adequate cleaning and fertilization procedures are followed.
Porfirio has learned a great deal from this program, such as how to properly cut bunches, better manage staff and better soil management. As we said at the beginning, this 80-year-old has remained steadfastly committed to the land as a way of supporting his family.
Today, Porfirio seems physically strong. He does not look at all tired, although his hair has grayed. Having devoted his entire life to feeding hundreds of thousands of people, he would now like to tell his daughter Dalila that her studies were made possible by his discipline and his work in the fields. He would also like for his eldest son Rubén to be more patient and embrace the land as he does.
Porfirio says that his remaining years “lent by God” will continue to be spent tilling the land. Meanwhile, he takes joy in seeing that his work has indeed borne fruit: his daughter Dalila Muñoz has become employed as an engineer after obtaining her degree in Engineering and Aquaculture. She is also the happy mother of Porfirio’s grandchildren Dania and Jesús, who fills his heart with laughter whenever he sees them.