Empowering local coffee growers to rehabilitate and strengthen Puerto Rico's coffee industry.
After Hurricane Irma and Maria, Puerto Rico's coffee industry suffered the worst blow to its infrastructure and crops in almost 100 years. Nearly 18 million trees were destroyed, wiping out approximately 85% of the island's coffee farms. The loss in agricultural income for local coffee farmers and their families was estimated at over $27 million, while the local coffee industry suffered losses were estimated at over $75 million.
In November 2017 coffee farmers approached ConPRmetidos urgently seeking trees to regrow their farms. ConPRmetidos spent months meeting with coffee farmers, industry experts, and community leaders in order to understand the coffee farmers’ plight and figure out the best way of obtaining and distributing new trees.
We quickly learned that distributing trees alone was not going to solve the crisis. There was a need for an organizational structure that allowed the coffee farmers to work together for the future of their industry. We proposed a strategic partnership between ConPRmetidos, community leaders, and industry experts to help coffee farmers create their own non-profit organization.
History was made when PROCAFE was born. Coffee Producers of Puerto Rico, Inc. (PROCAFE, its Spanish acronym) is a new non-profit organization by and for coffee growers that in itself is an affiliate of the Coffee Sector of the Puerto Rico Farmers Association/American Farm Bureau Federation
This month, the new PROCAFE headquarters opened its doors in Adjuntas, the heart of the island's coffee zone.
At the inauguration, Iris Jannette Rodriguez, president of PROCAFE, said: “these new facilities are a base from which coffee farmers can develop and effectively implement actionable initiatives and programs to protect, conserve and improve resources to meet the needs of the current generation and strengthen the potential of future generations of coffee growers."
The first project PROCAFE is executing is ConPRmetidos “Proyecto de La Montaña” (a partnership with a grant from Unidos por Puerto Rico) in which 750,000 coffee trees, fertilizers and additional farm subsidies are being distributed to over 500 coffee farming families as well as a best practices manual.
As ConPRmetidos' Executive Director, Isabel Rullán, noted in her remarks during the ceremony, "It is extremely important for ConPRmetidos to strengthen the coffee sector and that Puerto Rican coffee growers be the ones who lead the recovery of their farms and the rehabilitation of our coffee, cultivated and harvested in Puerto Rico."
PROCAFE also announced another partnership with ConPRmetidos: the delivery of a new coffee farming operations manual. Coffee crop yields before the Hurricane where not as productive as they could have been. The creation of this new manual seeks to make available new technologies and information on next-generation coffee-farming best practices to aid coffee growers in establishing their own successful coffee-growing operation. The last time local coffee farmers received a best practices manual was in 1999.