PUERTO RICO – The Hispanic Federation, Nespresso, The Rockefeller Foundation, Starbucks, TechnoServe and World Coffee Research, have all made a commitment to support smallholder coffee farmers in Puerto Rico.
The Hispanic Federation, together with actor Lin-Manuel Miranda and his family, have announced the launch of a five-year initiative to revitalize Puerto Rico’s coffee sector.
According to Sustainable Brands, the Hispanic Federation has made the first investment of US$1 million; Nespresso has also committed US$1 million, and The Rockefeller Foundation has given US$500,000.
The Starbucks Foundation has given US$470,000, and Starbucks also donated 2 million high-quality, climate-resilient coffee seeds.
TechnoServe, an international non-profit with a long history of work in the coffee sector, will lead implementation of the program with a Puerto Rican-led team.
These investments address the critical needs facing the Puerto Rican coffee industry, which was decimated after Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed 80 percent of the coffee trees — along with much of the island’s vital infrastructure — in 2017.
“My family and I love coffee. Coffee has been a part of Puerto Rico’s rich culture and heritage for generations,” Miranda said.
“I’m thrilled that my family, with the Hispanic Federation, have been able to help create such an important initiative that supports small farmers across the Island.”
This initiative evolved out of a task force that was formed after Hurricane Maria, and currently includes Hispanic Federation, Starbucks, World Coffee Research, farmers, academics and other public and private partners, looking to revitalize Puerto Rico’s coffee sector.
“Since September 2017, the Hispanic Federation and the Miranda family have been on the ground in Puerto Rico listening to the needs of communities, raising funds, and bringing together multi-sector organizations committed to a long-term recovery led by Puerto Ricans,” said Hispanic Federation President José Calderón.
“In addition to our US$1M lead investment in this initiative, the Federation brings 28 years of experience and critical knowledge on non-profit leadership, forging public-private partnerships, and policy advocacy efforts.
We will continue to mobilize major investments from well-respected businesses and philanthropic institutions to support local efforts.”
In 2017, the Island’s coffee industry was on track to be worth up to $100 million.
With nearly 80% of the coffee harvest and trees destroyed that year, the sector faces dire and immediate challenges, as well as opportunities.
This initiative aims to increase the long-term resilience and economic performance of the sector by bringing together a holistic support model, led by Puerto Ricans.
“By investing in this long-term initiative, we aim to help Puerto Rico’s farmers rebuild their farms and strengthen their industry,” said Guillaume Le Cunff, President and CEO of Nespresso USA.
“Nespresso has spent decades working directly with farmers to revive and build sustainable coffee sectors in regions around the world, and we have seen firsthand the transformative power coffee can have on improving farmer livelihoods, fostering economic development and ultimately rebuilding communities.”
“Although the aftermath of the hurricanes has been devastating for the Puerto Rican coffee industry, it has also provided a unique and time-sensitive opportunity to rebuild it from the ground up in a way that is stronger and better than before,” said Luis Miranda, Lin-Manuel’s father.
“In talking with farmers, we determined we could help them rebuild the sector smartly, resiliently, with a focus on the highest possible quality for local and international consumption.”
In addition to the funding and implementing partners, this collaboration includes the input and support of the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture and the University of Puerto Rico, along with local non-profit organizations, led by the Hispanic Federation; as well as local roasters, coffee shops and nurseries.
“WCR is committed to helping the coffee farmers of Puerto Rico rebuild their industry,” said Kraig Kraft, Global Programs Director at World Coffee Research.
“Our main focus is to assure local nurseries have the capacity to provide healthy, high-quality, disease-free plants.
By strengthening the base of the industry we help safeguard their investment, while also providing recommendations and tools based the best science available.”