Puerto Rico Agriculture Hard-hit by Hurricane Irma

Podcast / Newsline September 14, 2017

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The agriculture sector of Puerto Rico faces lost crops and property damage from Hurricane Irma. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements: Farmers are assessing damages and making recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Irma slammed the Caribbean island. Puerto Rico Farm Bureau President Hector Cordero says nearly one-third of crops were lost because of the storm.

Cordero: We lost around 25 to 30 percent of our crop, mostly in plantains and coffee. Overall, according to the Department of Agriculture, they estimate $30 million, the loss in all the agricultural sector.

Clements: He says Puerto Rico represents a diverse agriculture industry, all of which felt the impact of the Hurricane.

Cordero: Our main industry is dairy industry. It’s about 40 percent of our income in agriculture. And, the other 60 percent come from tropical crops like plantains, bananas, coffee, papaya, mangos, pineapples and some hydroponics like vegetables. Those are our main crops and our main agricultural operation.

Clements: A dairy farmer himself, he says farmers had to work around the storm to keep up operations and now, rebuilding can begin.

Cordero: I performed the milking out of the normal time. So, the day before the hurricane, we began two hours early, and after the hurricane passed, we milked the cows about two hours later than the normal time. The losses are more in fences because we use the grass-fed system, so we have some problems with the fences, but nothing that you can’t repair in less than 24 hours.

Clements: Additionally, he says many hydroponic farms were a total loss, and those farmers will have to rebuild their operations. Micheal Clements, Washington.

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