Layza Cordero / 11 years / Puerto Rico
There has been a notable increase in the island’s attention towards its agricultural aspect. Farmers are
being motivated to cultivate even though most find themselves mainly lacking the people to harvest and tend the fields. After the hurricane Maria, most fields were ruined. Not to mention the 470,335 of Puerto Ricans migrating to the U.S.Usually 85% of our food comes from U.S cargo boats. Once Maria passed, we discovered the severe level of dependability our island was suffering from. The hurricane exposed this as a problem of national security. According to Magaly Rivera, author of Agriculture in Puerto Rico (2019), demonstrates the percent of land used for agriculture in 2018 which was 59.9% compared to when hurricane Maria devastated our island in 2017, when only 22.28% of our lands were agriculturally active. Thankfully now the island’s production has increased but hasn’t reached the sufficient amount as to meet the population’s demand.
Before the hurricane, the Department of Agriculture had reported an increase in the buying of local produce and an augmentation in the assistance of people going to the local markets. Two years later, the island once again has this revitalization. According to Mildred Cortés, an agricultural economist, “One of the principal causes for this resurgence is the entry of new, young and capable farmers.” The University of Puerto Rico, especially the Mayagüez Campus, is responsible for the development of 98% Puerto Rico’s future farmers. Professor Cortés has also given a certain insight on the emphasis of the negotiable aspect of the farms, teaching the farmers themselves to manage their own businesses. These
measures have caused a notable increase in the local food markets where people are discovering the benefits of the island’s produce. Buyers from the local markets can state “that even though they have to pay a slightly higher price, it’s worth it, because the freshness and quality is one that the supermarkets can’t compete against.” The demand of local products has increased and yet the island’s production has not met its demands.
For example, our coffee, which has been a main export for decades, has finally dwindled. In local coffee shops, baristas and owners have chosen to serve local coffee instead of those exported from Dominican Republic, Colombia and Costa Rica, among other places. But once again, the amount produced does not meet its demand. There are other products such as pineapple, mangoes and guava that are lacking the laborers to harvest, which causes a loss of produce. One of the main causes for this lack of workers is the better working conditions of other jobs. Such as, fast-food restaurants or supermarkets and stores. That industry offers a comfortable environment, flexible work hours and other benefits that unfortunately working in agriculture doesn’t include. The industrial replacements from worker to machine can also be considered. Overall, our island needs people to tend its fields and make use of its fertility and to increase the production of local products so that our crops can someday feed the whole island instead of relying on cargo boats to survive.
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