Puerto Rico’s farmers were devastated by the impacts of both Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Marie. The aftermath of the two hurricanes wiped out almost 80% of the total crop value on the island. Experts forecast that restoring Puerto Rico’s agriculture sector could take anywhere from 10 months to a year or more.
Farmers in Puerto Rico have clearly taken a heavy loss from this year’s hurricane season. One such farmer is Rene Cruz. Before the hurricanes struck the island, Cruz said that he had 68 acres of land under cultivation. Now, he has nothing left. What is devastating for farmers like Rene Cruz is that his family’s livelihood depends on what he can grow and then sell to customers. The only thing that Rene Cruz has left to sell now is a few crops that he managed to salvage such as bruised plantains and some oranges.
A bright side to this story of loss is that the United States Federal Government is stepping up to help farmers such as Mr. Cruz whose farms and livelihood were devastated by the hurricanes. They will be providing disaster assistance money to help pay for the cost of cleanup and to help him purchase new seeds for next year’s crop. Another plus to Rene Cruz was that he managed to have his farm insured. Unfortunately, the cost of damage was so high that the insurance company has refused to pay for all the damages incurred.
A downside to the story is that despite promises of help from the federal government to farmers, many of them have not received any aid. One of the reasons why this has happened is because many of Puerto Rico’s rural and agrarian areas are still without functioning communications network. These farmers have been unable to be in contact with disaster relief officials which has hampered them from receiving aid. As Puerto Rico regains electricity and telecommunications, more and more people should get aid.