Puerto Rico reported a 15% surge in production this year reflecting the increased efforts by the government to revive the coffee sector that fell to a historic low in 2013.
In October, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla outlined a plan to perk up Puerto Rico’s sagging coffee industry and create 6,000 new jobs over the next two years.
The program aims to get an additional 16,000 acres of coffee crops, which would bring the islandwide total to roughly 52,000 acres.
The plan calls for $4.2 million in fertilizer incentives for coffee growers and advisory services from Agriculture Department experts to improve yields.
A total of $670,000 in production subsidies was also awarded to 60 coffee brokers in a bid to stabilize the local market and spur production.
Accords have been signed with more than two dozen nurseries and planting on the additional 16,000 acres started stages beginning in February. The first harvests are projected for three years down the road with a target of increasing the island’s coffee crops by 30 percent.
Puerto Rico consumes some 300,000 quintals of coffee annually, while its growers produce only 80,000 quintals. The rest is imported from producers including the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
Coffee production in Puerto Rico hit the lowest level ever in the island’s history last year, leaving farmers and government officials worried about how to revive a once burgeoning industry.
The coffee industry employs some 10,000 people and stretches into 21 of the island’s 78 municipalities, with most farms located in the central mountain region.