Hurricane Maria destroyed 85% of coffee farm harvests when it ravaged the island in September 2017, says Puerto Rico’s secretary of agriculture.
Right before the storm, farmers were expecting the best harvest in 10 years, he says.
“To see all of the work, effort and money that you put in, just gone in a couple of hours, it was tough,” says coffee farmer Iris Jeannette, adding that she lost over 20,000 trees and more than $100,000 in labor and investments. https://nbcnews.to/2Z6toHw (2/7)
Coffee plants take longer than other crops to recover. After Maria, the Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit advocacy organization, decided to create a 5-year coffee initiative, in collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s family to help revitalize the island's coffee sector. (3/7)
While this initiative sounds promising, farmers can’t solely depend on these efforts to assure a quick recovery.
Farmers who best know their needs require more immediate help, says Jeannette. https://nbcnews.to/2Z6toHw (4/7)
“A lot of help has arrived, but it has gone to studies, plans, administration, and the help doesn’t get to those who really need it. The money and support goes to those who don’t really need it. We’ve realized that we, as coffee farmers, have to do the work ourselves.” (5/7)
One coffee tree takes three years to grow. So far, the government has distributed 500,000 trees to farmers throughout the island, Ortega says.
The other 1.5 million trees will be distributed this month and next. https://nbcnews.to/2Z6toHw (6/7)
4 days after Hurricane Maria struck, Jennette walked through her farm, assessing the damage. Now, she has planted new trees and is hopeful for the industry’s future.
“The island depends on agriculture. We have to continue.” https://nbcnews.to/2Z6toHw (7/7)
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