Agriculture Dept. assigns $2.4M to incentivize Puerto Rican coffee industry
The Agriculture Department announced the allocation of $2.4 million through its Regional Agricultural Incentives Program to boost coffee harvests and production in Puerto Rico.
The money will be used to harvest coffee trees in 1,700 acres of land.
Bonafide coffee growers may apply for incentives in any of the eight agricultural regions to buy trees, prune coffee trees, planting, and replanting. The agency seeks to continue supporting new projects and expansion of existing ones to increase production and consumption of local coffee.
“We’ve seen a notable increase in the production of the coffee industry, and we want Puerto Rico to continue making a name for itself with the coffee from here,” Agriculture Secretary Ramón González said.
“We want to improve productivity, harvests, and marketing, and in this sense the Department is identifying economic resources and tools to direct them to our farmers,” he said, noting that the island’s last coffee harvest totaled about 4 million pounds.
With this push, the agency seeks to push that production to 10 million pounds by 2026, he said.
The funds will be available until Sept. 30 and applicants will have to meet the eligibility requirements, he added.
Some of them are having a valid legal license, having a production record, complying with the Agriculture Statistics Division survey, presenting the proposal of the project to be supported, presenting quotes and others depending on the coffee program being sought.
The incentives are under three categories — New Coffee Crops, Coffee Replanting and Orderly Planting Program — as per the administrative order that will be in effect until June 30, 2023.
New Coffee Crops consists of allocating a voucher to cover the cost of 1,000 coffee trees per acre, up to a maximum of 20 acres per farmer, per year, whose purchase value is $900.
There are also vouchers available for $150 for fertilizers, $200 for lime carbonate and $100 for pesticides.
“Aware of climate change and the pressing need of coffee growers to get aid, we have established some parameters to grant incentives in accordance with the needs that they have expressed to us to put their farms into production,” said González.
That said, the agency will encourage pruning of the coffee trees, a fundamental agricultural practice that consists of eliminating part of the plant to get shoots that improve production, with an economic aid of $50 per pruned acre.
In addition, a voucher for the purchase of fertilizers of $75 per acre will be awarded, of which the minimum approval is one acre, and the maximum is 10 acres, per farmer and per year.
Meanwhile, the Coffee Replanting and Orderly Planting Programs, aimed at maintaining stable production, will be incentivized with a purchase order of $0.60 per coffee tree, up to a maximum of 5,000 trees per farmer per year, at a rate of a 1,000 trees per acre. The retail value of the tree is $0.90, and the farmer’s payment will be $0.30, the agency stated.