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Eric Viramontes, chief executive officer of the Associación Mexicana de Horticultura Protegida A.C., or Mexican Association of Protected Horticulture, is stepping down from his post as the organization's top executive, a position he has held since 2008. Mr. Viramontes will be replaced by Arturo Diaz.

Speaking of Mr. Diaz, Mr. Viramontes told The Produce News, "He is a person of my total trust and a good friend of mine" and someone who is "close to our industry," having worked "both in the private and official sectors," in SAGARPA Eric-ViramontesEric Viramontesand in various private companies in the agricultural sector.

Mr. Diaz, who is from Sinaloa, "is a person who meets the requirements that AMHPAC needs today," Mr. Viramontes said.

AMHPAC, which is based in Culiacan, Sinaloa, represents vegetable growers and exporters in Mexico that grow product in greenhouses, hothouses, shadehouses and other protected growing environments.

Mr. Viramontes said he made the decision to step down as CEO of AMHPAC last year and to concentrate his efforts on his own company, Visiones y Servicios.

"I am working right now from my company," he said. "I am supporting several organizations with special projects to enhance relationships between marketers and growing operations."

Among the main goals of the company are "matching the right grower to the right marketer" and "supporting state governments in Mexico to help their growers move up to a competitive edge that is required to be in the global market," he said.

Mr. Viramontes will continue to be affiliated with AMPHAC, however, as a member of the board of directors. He will also continue to see through to completion some of the issues he has been involved in, such as negotiations for the tomato suspension agreement.

"I just won't be at the driving wheel anymore," he said.

It was "a hard decision," he added, because he enjoyed the work, the industry, and the people he has been working with.

"You put all of your effort and push as hard as you can for so long," he said. "But you always have to understand" that for an organization to continue and to be competitive, "the cycle must come to an end and you have to allow new blood to come in."

Mr. Viramontes' previous affiliations have included ASERCA (the marketing branch of Mexico's ministry of agriculture) and Ciruli Bros. LLC in Nogales, AZ.

"I am very satisfied with my time at AMHPAC," Mr. Viramontes said. "I was in a very difficult situation to start off this organization. We started with 32 members. Right now we have 360 members. We are one of the most prestigious and recognized organizations out of Mexico. We have perfect relationships with the governments in both Mexico and the United States" and with industry organizations in both countries. "We have a very strong voice that is being heard and I think we field a strong operational team. And we were always able to maintain this organization on a positive note," looking for solutions, not for conflicts, he said.