Agriculture in Puerto Rico

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The industry of agriculture in Puerto Rico constitutes about US$808 million or about 0.8% of the island's gross domestic product (GDP).[1] The infrastructure of "traditional" crops is affected, but that is where the widespread use of hydroponic crops is relevant; the main concern with them is actually cost, since indoor structures should be safe from nature. Experts from the University of Puerto Rico argued that these crops could cover approx. 30% of the local demand, particularly that of smaller vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, etc. and several kinds of tubers that are currently being imported, opening the door to eventual exportation. The existence of a thriving agricultural economy has been prevented due to a shift in priorities towards industrialization, bureaucratization, mismanagement of terrains, lack of alternative methods and a deficient workforce. Its geographical location within the Caribbean exacerbates these issues, making the scarce existing crops propense to the devastating effects of Atlantic hurricanes.


Sugar cane workers resting at the noon hour, Rio Piedras. Photograph by Jack Delano, a photographer for the Farm Security Administration. Ca. 1941.

Agriculture or farming is concerned with the cultivation of plants, animals and other food sources that sustain life. It also involves growing crops for other purposes. Coffee production, and sugar cane production in Puerto Rico has had a history of ups and downs, affected by hurricanes and by its isolated location, and its political status as a colony of Spain and as a territory of the United States.

In 1900, the most important agricultural products in Puerto Rico were "cotton, rice, cacao, corn, coconuts, pepper, bananas, tobacco, vegetable dyes, coffee, sugar, pineapples and vanilla".[2]

Disaster struck in August 1899, when two hurricanes ravaged the island: the 1899 San Ciriaco hurricane on August 8, and an unnamed hurricane on August 22. Approximately 3,400 people died in the floods and thousands were left without shelter, food, or work.[3] The effects on the economy were devastating: millions of dollars were lost due to the destruction of the majority of the sugar and coffee plantations. Afterwards, nearly 5000 Puerto Ricans migrated to Hawaii by 1910 to work in the sugar plantations of Hawaii.

In 2012, there were 13,159 farms in Puerto Rico.[4]

While not a state, Puerto Rico is a member of the Southern United States Trade Association, a non-profit organization that assists the agriculture industry in developing its exports.[5]

New farms[edit]

Because of the 2009 economic crisis and the susceptibility of Puerto Rico to hurricanes, there's been an urgency to push for more farms on the island. While not large enough to produce on a mass scale, the quality of products is high. Farming has a more positive image among young people in Puerto Rico.[6][7][8]

In September 2019, an initiative to diminish the amount of coffee that is imported to Puerto Rico was announced by the Hispanic Federation, leading 1,500 Puerto Rico coffee growers.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Herrmann, Karl Stephen (1900). From Yauco to Las Marias: Being a Story of the Recent Campaign in Western Puerto Rico by the Independent Regular Brigade, Under Command of Brigadier-General Schwan. R. G. Badger & Company. p. 95. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Hurricane San Ciriaco". Library of Congress. Retrieved March 26, 2006.
  4. ^ "2012 Census of Agriculture Highlights" (PDF). USDA. USDA. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "'The push we needed': Puerto Rico's local farmers step up efforts after Hurricane Maria". NBC News.
  7. ^ Graf, Carly. "Meet the Farmers Reclaiming Puerto Rico's Agricultural History" – via Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "How Puerto Rico Lost Its Home-Grown Food, But Might Find It Again".
  9. ^

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