The United States-based Hispanic Federation along with the family of celebrated playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame have announced an ambitious five-year initiative to rebuild the coffee sector in Puerto Rico.
Among the island’s many devastating losses due to Hurricane Maria just over one year ago was approximately 80 percent of all Puerto Rican coffee plants, according to the Hispanic Federation.
Creating obvious economic perils for coffee farmers, the environmental destruction has affected every aspect of the island’s coffee industry, including a wave of new roasters and retailers who have been working to bolster Puerto Rican coffee’s international reputation. The Hispanic Federation estimates that in 2017, the Puerto Rican coffee sector was approaching $100 million in total worth.
“Since September 2017, the Hispanic Federation and the Miranda family have been on the ground in Puerto Rico listening to the needs of communities, raising funds, and bringing together multi-sector organizations committed to a long-term recovery led by Puerto Ricans,” Hispanic Federation President José Calderón said in an announcement of the initiative today.
The nonprofit Hispanic Federation — which for 28 years has been leading advocacy and programs related to a range of issues affecting Latin American communities in the United States — is putting up $1 million to seed the initiative. Other funding partners in the five-year plan include Nespresso ($1 million), the Rockefeller Foundation ($500,000), and the Starbucks Foundation ($470,000).
Starbucks has already announced its donation of 2 million seeds for new high-quality, climate-resistant coffee plants, and the nonprofit World Coffee Research is also providing support. The development nonprofit Technoserve will be the implementing partner, along with a leadership team in Puerto Rico.
According to the Hispanic Federation, the initiative will involve diversifying and improving the quality of coffee seed material; rebuilding capacity in nurseries; bringing training and best-in-field climate-smart agronomic and business practices to small farmers; and establishing a network and market opportunities.
“My family and I love coffee. Coffee has been a part of Puerto Rico’s rich culture and heritage for generations,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda. “I’m thrilled that my family, with the Hispanic Federation, have been able to help create such an important initiative that supports small farmers across the Island.”