Puerto Rico’s farmers look to rebuild after Hurricane Maria

World Today

When Hurricane Maria walloped Puerto Rico it was also facing another disaster – an economic one.

Puerto Rico was submerged in debt. But its agricultural industry was experiencing growth of about 5 percent a year. Now, that’s gone too.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez caught up with farmers trying to plow through the uncertainty.

All of Luis Pinto Cruz’s plantain crops are gone.

“I had 14,000 plantain plants and I lost them all big and small,” Cruz said. “I also had 58 heads of cattle. And there are 18 that I can’t find. They must have drowned when the river overflowed.”

Luis Pinto is a farmer in Yabucoa, a municipality on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico that took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria. The fury of 250-kilometer-per-hour winds clear-cut all growth.

What was left of Puerto Rico’s agriculture has been decimated. Hurricane Irma took a quarter of the crops in early September Maria did the rest. Now, 80 percent is gone.

Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Agriculture estimates Hurricane Maria will be one of the costliest storms to hit the island’s agriculture industry.