Before Hurricane María, Puerto Rico was importing 80% of its foods. With Puerto Rico’s agricultural industry destroyed, this already high number is at risk of sharply increasing. Hispanic Federation (HF) is providing critical resources to local farmers and fishermen as they rebuild a stronger agriculture and fishing sector and improve food security on the island with training and capacity building, stipends, innovative technology, seeds, and more.
How is Hispanic Federation Helping?
We’re assisting smallholder farmers, sustainable fisheries, and reseeding damaged crops to help restore the island’s agricultural sector, all in an effort to support the workers, families and communities that crucially depend on it.
Who Are We Helping?
Centro Microempresas y Tecnologías Agrícolas Sustentables- CMTAS (Yauco)
A 70-acre education center for agricultural microenterprises, CMTAS supports local communities and farmers through sustainable technology. HF funding helped the Center restore pathways and its teaching building so that it could reopen its school. The funding also allowed CMTAS to construct a solarized well that will provide the Quebradas community in Yauco and those in surrounding areas with clean water in the event of another disaster. HF is also helping install a pilot anaerobic bio-digester, which can supply an alternative source of energy to 15 homes and the CMTAS school. CMTAS vision is to develop an agro-tourism social enterprise that will help sustain these and other projects. Lastly, they received emergency funds to provide furniture and appliances to over 50 small farmers and their families who lost all or part of their homes.
Coffee Sector Revitalization Initiative (Island-wide)
In October 2018, HF, together with the Miranda Family and founding partners Nespresso, The Rockefeller Foundation, Starbucks Foundation, TechnoServe, and World Coffee Research, launched this five-year initiative to support coffee farmers on the island and to rebuild and revitalize Puerto Rico’s coffee industry. TechnoServe and World Coffee Research, two global coffee sector expert NGO’s, will manage the implementation of the initiative with a Puerto Rican team. The initiative aims to increase the long-term resilience and economic performance of the sector by bringing together a holistic support model. This model includes: (1) diversifying and improving the quality of local coffee seed material, (2) rebuilding capacity in local nurseries, (3) bringing training and best-in-field climate-smart agronomic and business practices to 1500 smallholder farmers to elevate the production and quality of the sector, and (4) establishing a network and market opportunities for farmers. The initiative also supports the coordination of the PR Coffee Task and the importation of 2 million seeds donated by Starbucks to the Dept. of Agriculture.
Acción Social de Puerto Rico, Inc. ASPRI (Río Grande)
ASPRI runs a community agriculture-training program which trains 240 participants annually for cutting-edge careers in hydroponics. HF funds have been used to rehabilitate its Río Grande agricultural service center and rebuild their hydroponic greenhouse, which was damaged by María. HF support is crucial in restoring ASPRI’s training center and readying the facility to enroll a new cohort.
Para la Naturaleza (Las Marías and Ciales)
With support from HF, Para la Naturaleza provided microgrants to two local farmers to restart crop production and re-engage with local farmers markets and the agroecological economy, including direct produce distribution to restaurants.
El Departamento de la Comida (Island-wide)
The Hispanic Federation supported El Departamento de la Comida’s Guagua Solidaria (Solidarity bus), which transported work brigades of volunteers and agricultural supplies to help small farmers throughout the island. They spend an average of three days clearing land, rebuilding farming structures, providing seeds for crops, and installing sustainable technology. The brigade brings much-needed support to overwhelmed farmers, and in the process promotes self-sufficiency and food sovereignty. El Departamento plans to serve 200 farms over two years. Its work was featured in Vogue magazine.
Armonia en la Montaña (Aibonito and Arroyo)
HF funds allowed Armonía en la Montaña to rehabilitate and enhance two nonprofit agroecological farms in Aibonito and Arroyo. In doing so, Armonía has been able to expand its educational and community services programs, improve coordination of farmer to farmer volunteer work brigades, and support the distribution of locally grown produce by developing a community market. Additionally, funds are supporting a pilot study to grow and produce local artisanal textiles such as cotton and maguey.
Seed Relief Puerto Rico (Island-wide)
The main objective of Seed Relief-PR, a Seeding Relief's project, was to collect donated seeds and provide them to Puerto Rican growers in need, while at the same time increasing the diversity of crops produced in the island for greater food resilience. The donated seeds provided farmers an opportunity to restart their production and try novel fast-growing crops, without an initial investment of seeds, which can be costly. HF shipped a 10,000 lb. pallet of flower, vegetable and tree seeds for replanting and reforestation efforts. These donated seeds were distributed by the University of Puerto Rico to agriculturalists and farmers throughout the island.