Working to Revitalize Puerto Rico's Coffee Industry
On October 25, 2018, Hispanic Federation, together with the Miranda Family, announced the launch of a five-year initiative to revitalize Puerto Rico’s coffee sector. The founding partners include Hispanic Federation, Nespresso, The Rockefeller Foundation, Starbucks Foundation, TechnoServe, and World Coffee Research, all of which are committed to supporting coffee farmers on the island.
Before the storms, the Puerto Rican coffee industry was a critical economic engine employing 15,000 people. More than 4,400 were smallholder coffee farmers in municipalities where agriculture is king. In 2017, the island's coffee industry was on track to be worth up to $100 million.
In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked unbelievable havoc on Puerto Rico. It especially devastated its coffee farmers. Nearly 80% of the island’s coffee harvest and trees were destroyed, resulting in a loss of $85 million for coffee farmers and crippling an important economic pillar for Puerto Rico.
In late 2017, the Coffee Task Force was formed to focus on what more could be done to support farmers. We met and listened to farmers who shared the importance and urgency to rebuild the coffee sector.
Through their stories, it dawned that we had a golden opportunity to reimagine and revitalize the island’s coffee industry, with a focus on resiliency as a bulwark against climate change. Joining forces with farmers, we envisioned bringing the island, and the world, a supply of high quality Puerto Rican coffee, a staple of Puerto Rico’s agricultural heritage for centuries.
Key objectives include:
- Improving the quality of the coffee on the island, focusing on resilient seeds
- Rebuilding capacity in nurseries, where the crucial parts of the harvesting occur
- Providing technical support to grow sustainable and more productive coffee
- Sharing farm management best practices to elevate the industry’s coffee production and quality
The Federation’s partners include Nespresso, which is investing $1 million, along with $500,000 from The Rockefeller Foundation. Starbucks Foundation has donated $470,000, along with 2 million high quality, resilient coffee seeds. Technical support will come from the nonprofit World Coffee Research and TechnoServe, an international non-profit with a long history of work in the coffee sector. TechnoServe will manage implementation of the program with a Puerto Rican-led team.
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About the Hispanic Federation and the Miranda family
Hispanic Federation, working closely with the Miranda family, have played a central role in catalyzing Puerto Rican businesses, governments and nonprofits to work together to support local communities, towns, municipalities, small businesses, and farmers on the island to recover and revitalize.
After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Hispanic Federation was among the first organizations to provide emergency assistance, including the distribution of over 7 million pounds of, food, water, and other critical supplies in all 78 municipalities. Thus far, Hispanic Federation has committed $30 million dollars to over 80 local groups leading initiatives across the island in agriculture, renewable energy, housing, environment, small business and workforce development, health/mental health, education and the arts.
Hispanic Federation is committed to continuing local efforts for the long run. HF has expanded its operations and opened a permanent satellite office in Puerto Rico. The Federation brings 28 years of experience and critical knowledge on non-profit leadership, forging public-private partnerships, and policy advocacy efforts.
We will continue to mobilize major investments from well-respected businesses and philanthropic institutions to support local recovery and advocacy efforts.