M.S. – Horticulture, UC Davis
B.S. – Agronomy and Plant Breeding, UASLP, Mexico
Years of Service at Sakata: 2014 to Present
Currently Breeding: Hot Peppers
Benito, what led you to decide to become a vegetable breeder?
I started in the “seed Industry” working for Asgrow Seed Company as PD & Sales representative. I also worked for Petoseed Seed Company as PD and R&D Station Manager. While working for these two seed companies I spent numerous hours in the field working with plant breeders and I thought their job was fascinating. I learned that as a vegetable breeder we could manipulate a plant’s DNA to make it more resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses. A vegetable Plantbreeder can also improve the yields, adaptation, and nutritional value of crops. To be able to contribute and improve the quality of life of growers and consumers by practicing vegetable breeding inspired me to go back to school and learn the Science behind plant breeding.
What’s the best part of your job?
I enjoy my work very much and more so in a great working environment such as Sakata. I would say the best part is to create and develop lines and making new hybrid combinations and introducing them in our target markets. Spending time in the field observing and evaluating several hundred plants if not even thousands of them to find the most ideal genetic combination has to be one of the best parts of my job.
Sakata recently celebrated 40 years of business in NAFTA – Do you have anything special you’d like to say about Sakata?
I am very proud of being part of the company. I have always admired and respected the image, prestige and reputation. While working for Asgrow and Peto I knew about Sakata, which has for the longest time being the dominant leader in Brassica crops specifically broccoli. Over time the Company has grown in many other different segments and that is a good sing of a successful company. I like that many Sakata employees have been with the Company for more than 20, 25, or even 30 years. I would say that speaks very highly of the Management Team and the company’s philosophy.
Briefly, can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you!
Working at Sakata as the Hot Pepper Breeder kind of closes the circle. I started my plant breeding career working with hot peppers. Like several professionals at the time, I did a lot of scouting for landraces of hot peppers in Mexico that I gave to one of my very good professional friends. Then, for my Master’s dissertation, I worked in CMS in peppers. I went to breed watermelons for many years and now being back in hot peppers is like a dream come through. I am not planning on stopping plant breeding perhaps until I die. Plant breeding is my passion.