Five years after hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, the country is well on its way to restoring coffee production to pre-hurricane level.

On 17 September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Katrina devastated Puerto Rico, killing thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands. The hurricanes also decimated Puerto Rican coffee production, which fell from 2,000 tonnes of coffee to just 330 tonnes in 2018.

Several companies and organisations participated in the restoration of local coffee farms. Hispanic Federation’s Puerto Rico Coffee Revitalization Initiative was supported by “the Miranda Family, corporate and philanthropic partners like Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters, Nespresso, Rockefeller Foundation, Starbucks, The Colibrí Foundation and over 140 additional organisations and initiatives across the island.” Nespresso in particular announced a CHF1 million (circa $US1.02 million) investment and started collaborating with TechnoServe, a non-profit organisation dedicated to international development, the Hispanic Federation and coffee growers in Puerto Rico.

1,139 smallholder farms have received over 2 million locally grown Arabica seeds, which will increase their economic potential by $6 million at the farm level and an estimated $10 million at the mill level. Several farmers have already expressed their gratitude to the stakeholders involved, as many of them were able to save their farms, which have been family-owned for generations.

The recovery has focused on cooperation between partners and farmers to replant crops while introducing regenerative agriculture practices that improve resilience against natural causes. If all goes according to plan, Puerto Rico’s coffee production should surpass pre-hurricane levels in the next five years.

The recent harvest yields showed over 90% of pre-hurricane levels for the first time since the disasters, rising to 1,880 tonnes from 330 in 2018, according to information from the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture and other experts. TechnoServe predicts that by 2027, the country’s yields will have increased by at least 200% from their 2016 levels.

Coffee has long played an important role in Puerto Rico’s vibrant culture and economy. The impact that hurricanes Irma and María had on the industry and the communities who rely on it was devastating to see.[…] I am proud of Nespresso’s support to the island over the past years, and I look forward to seeing how the Puerto Rican coffee industry continues to rebound and thrive.

Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO, Nespresso

Photo from BeLatina.com

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