Ag Crisis in Puerto Rico

Ag Crisis in Puerto Rico

Recovery from storm that destroyed up to 85 percent of crops will take time and effort, say Friedman School experts.

The hurricane that swept through Puerto Rico on September 20 practically wiped out the island’s agricultural sector, destroying 80 to 85 percent of crops by some estimates. Getting emergency food and water to people for the near future has already proven a big challenge. But in the long-term, the agricultural damage may create more of an economic crisis than a food crisis, according to Tufts faculty.

Before the hurricane, Puerto Rico imported about 85 percent of the food it consumes, so it was already dependent on outside producers for the bulk of its needs. Puerto Rican farmers who depend on crop sales for their livelihoods, however, may have a very difficult recovery ahead.

“What is it we are worried about? It’s not just the loss of food,” said Parke Wilde, an agricultural economist at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Friedman School faculty and students came together on October 23 for a discussion hosted by the Friedman Justice League, a student organization focused on diversity and addressing disparities in the food system. In addition to sharing information and perspectives on the ongoing emergency, they discussed ways to contribute to Puerto Rico’s recovery through fundraising, outreach, and research. 

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