As of Wednesday morning, the total number of deaths caused by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has reached 45, according to CBS. As the death toll rises amid the devastation of ruined homes, lost power for nearly every resident, and lack of access to clean water for much of the island, Puerto Rico’s coffee farms have been destroyed as well. Many coffee plantations were completely or nearly entirely demolished by the hurricane, which hit Puerto Rico with 155 mile-per-hour winds. The overall loss to agriculture has been profound, with some estimates putting the total loss of agriculture at more than 75 percent, according to NPR.
Roberto Atienza, who owns a family coffee farm that has been growing on the same land in central Puerto Rico for three generations, told NPR that he lost 90 percent of his crop. Because his harvest season was late this year, Atienza said that only about 2 percent of the beans had been harvested before Maria hit. Further, it could take a minimum of 6 months to replace the coffee plants his farm lost, Atienza told NPR.
According to Eater, many of the farms that were wiped out by hurricane Maria are smaller scale operations, that, while some are insured, simply don’t have the funds and support available to get back on their feet. And there’s a time crunch to consider: the island, which has a very high demand for coffee, could run out of the product in a matter of a few weeks. To that end, the author of Eater’s article, Mikol Hoffman, joined with locals to start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Puerto Rican farmers who need help getting their farms back in order. Launched September 27, the fund has so far raised 9,350 of its $100,000 goal.
According to the GoFundMe page, the fund “will donate $500 per every farmed acre to local farmers as direct aid in the form of money. Our farmer’s need immediate relief and the most effective and fastest way to provide that is cash flow to help get them back on their feet and meet each individual farmer's different needs.” There are many people across Puerto Rico who need direct aid right now, and this campaign is one way to help.