Hurricane Maria Has Devastated Puerto Rico’s Farmland


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In the wake of the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s food supply and agricultural industry are in a state of crisis. Maria has stripped Puerto Rico of most of its farmland—approximately 13,000 farms—which accounts for roughly a quarter of the island’s total land. Since the hurricane made landfall two weeks ago, water, food, and fuel supplies are running low, power and communication lines are still largely down, and much of the infrastructure is destroyed, leaving people vulnerable and without shelter.

With Category 4 winds up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour), Maria wiped out approximately 80 percent of the Puerto Rico’s total crop value, Puerto Rico’s agriculture secretary Carlos Flores Ortega told The New York Times. That equates to about US$780 million in crop losses. While plantain, banana, and coffee crops were hit the hardest, local staple crops such as sugarcane, tobacco, and citrus fruits have also been largely destroyed. Landslides and flooding have killed farm animals and destroyed dairy barns and industrial chicken coops. While Puerto Rico imports about 85 percent of its food, extensive storm damage to roads, ports, and stores is making food distribution difficult.

“Due to the widespread damage and power outages, the island has little or no food that can be bought in stores, and we at USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) are working hard with the territorial leaders to make sure households get the food they need,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a press release.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, working in coordination with federal partners, has provided more than 4 million meals, 6 million liters of water, and other essential items to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria’s landfall. Additional meals and water continue to arrive at the islands daily via both air and sea.

The agricultural industries of other Caribbean countries have also been affected by Hurricane Maria in addition to Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in early September. In Dominica, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has determined that 100 percent of crops have been destroyed, with farm infrastructure and agricultural tools suffering severe damage. In Haiti, farms in coastal areas were flooded, and the subsistence food crops of roughly 18,000 family farms have been destroyed. There is an urgent need for food and water, with some countries likely to experience an unprecedented level of food insecurity.

With most radio stations and cell phone towers still inoperable in Puerto Rico, government officials have no way to accurately assess the extent of the damage. Perdue has pledged all resources at the USDA’s disposal to help agricultural producers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as they recover. According to Perdue, the USDA “is ready to assess agricultural damage and assist producers when conditions on the islands allow.”

In the meantime, a number of relief efforts are providing aid to victims all over the country. The Puerto Rico Real-Time Recovery Fund, managed by nonprofit organizations ConPRmetidos and Foundation for Puerto Rico, is directing 100 percent of donations to long-term structural repairs to the most vulnerable communities. #ChefsforPuertoRico, run by celebrity chef Jose Andrés in conjunction with local Puerto Rican chefs, is providing meals and relief to thousands of Puerto Ricans per day. First Lady of Puerto Rico Beatriz Rosselló has created a presentation on the emergency as well as a relief fund United for Puerto Rico, which will provide aid and support to those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. It is urging people all over the world to take part in campaign awareness by using social media.

Providing an update on the situation, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló has stated in the media, “We’re managing, it is uncomfortable, but things can either get better, or they can get worse. Our petition is: let’s get some more resources here, let’s help the people of Puerto Rico.”

Eva Perroni is a research and writing fellow at Food Tank and a freelance researcher-writer and activist focused on promoting sustainable food systems. She holds an MA in development studies from the University of Melbourne, maintaining a strong research focus on global food security and food and agriculture politics. From learning traditional Sicilian recipes in her Nonna’s kitchen to campaigning for food and climate justice, Eva’s love and passion for fair and healthy food are continuously growing.

This article was republished from Food Tank.

See also:
How To Feed Ourselves In A Time Of Climate Crisis
Climate Friendly Farms: Agriculture Adapts To Global Warming

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Daily Astrology

August 14, 2018

Early morning moods may be somewhat subdued. The Libra Moon is at odds with dour Saturn. Life can feel like an unending series of chores and tests but there’s no escaping pressing needs. Do what must be done. As midday nears moods are on an upswing…
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August 2018

A fantastic shopping and educational experience for the whole family! Vendors come from New England, across the US, and many foreign countries to exhibit minerals, fossils, gemstones, jewelry,...

Cost: $8 adults, under 13 free

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Eastern States Exposition
1305 Memorial Ave.
West Springfield, MA  01089
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Readings, healings, vendors, presentations.

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Hilton Garden Inn
85 Glastonbury Blvd.
South Glastonbury, CT  06066
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During the weekend of August 10-12, 2018 we will gather again at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts for the 44th Annual NOFA SC. This immersive annual gathering is an opportunity to come...

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Hampshire College
Amherst, MA


Sponsor: Northeast Organic Farming Association
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August 13 - 17, 9am - 1pm Instructor: Peyton Pugmire For student entering grades 6-8 iPhones are amazing, but you know what’s even more amazing? You! During this imaginative week...

Cost: $250

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
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August 13 - 16 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/16)

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Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
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August 13 - 14 This fun and exciting healing workshop guarantees you valuable knowledge and powerful skills to keep you in a higher vibration of energy and flowing with infinite intelligence and...

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Marlborough, MA


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August 14 - 24 For millennia people have entered the wilderness to encounter Spirit and seek their direction, purpose, or medicine. If you are seeking guidance and renewal, or you’re...

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Putney, VT  05346
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What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

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Body Love Wellness Center
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Yoga is an ancient behavioral practice that allows for the development and enhancement of mind-body skills and behavioral factors including physical functioning, self-regulation of internal...

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Cambridge, MA  02142
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Barbara Macias will present an information workshop on the benefits of essential oils. A demonstration of the oils will be included. Please RSVP at katboston@comcast.net

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Norwell, MA  02061
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August 16 - 19 Magnetic-harmonic vibrational therapist, Jay Emmanuel, A.K., N.S.,V.M. shares powerful energy techniques that use the forces of sounds produced by the human voice in combination...

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430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
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August 16 - 19 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/13)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
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With June Edward, “The Massachusette Medium” This is a mediumship gallery with June Edward, the “Massachusetts Medium!” Have you ever wanted to talk to someone on the...

Cost: $55 on Eventbrite, $60 at door

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Guide: Peyton Pugmire Ages 16+ Like meditating with a paintbrush! Escape your stress and routine and re-connect with yourself, your heart and soul - one brushstroke at a time. This fun...

Cost: $85 (includes cost of all supplies)

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