Digital tool launched to keep track of Puerto Rico’s farming cycles
The USDA Caribbean Climate Hub at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, developed an online tool to visualize annual agricultural production data across Puerto Rico.
Climate Hub Director William Gould explained that the data displayed by the Agricultural Statistics tool is an interactive platform which shows the location and production of the majority of agricultural products harvested in Puerto Rico, in map and table format.
“The information displayed by the tool can be used to assess trends and visualize the distribution of crops for schools, researchers, and planners; and help support sustainable agriculture in a changing climate,” he said.
Agricultural Statistics was developed through a collaboration between the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture and the USDA Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry. This collaboration capitalizes on the geospatial analytical expertise of the Climate Hub with the Agriculture Department’s information-gathering capacity, project representatives said.
Puerto Rico Agriculture Secretary Carlos Flores-Ortega, said “this tool that we are unveiling today, which was developed in collaboration with sister agencies of the USDA, will be very useful in agricultural planning and development.”
“It’s part of the strategy to increase government agility and the use of science and technology. We have all put our best effort sharing information and resources to bring the farmer information that he did not have access to before, and that is necessary for his planting plans in the face of the reality of changes in nature and pressure to increase our food production,” Flores said.
Gould said climate projections for the Caribbean include increased temperatures and rising sea levels, prolonged periods of drought, combined with events of high intensity rainfall. Changing climate affects patterns of rainfall and seasonality which can put food security at risk by affecting the timing of agricultural production, crop yield, and the availability and price of local products.
“Better and wider access to information on crop distribution and productivity trends can help people and agencies understand vulnerabilities and to plan for a sustainable future,” Gould said.
The tool provides the public with summaries of agricultural data collected by the local Agriculture Department’s Office of Agricultural Statistics, which oversees gathering this information from farmers and vendors in Puerto Rico.
Data is available at the island, agricultural region, municipality, and neighborhood levels from 2013 through 2016, and will be updated as new data becomes available, the spokespeople said.
The information provided by the tool can help farmers, food marketers, and researchers to plan their agricultural business, use the data for market studies, assess transport routes, assess trends in agriculture, and for help deciding what, where and when to grow a product.
Additionally, students and teachers can take advantage of the tool as a resource in the classroom, researchers can use the data for analyses, and applications of the tool are open to the needs and creativity of users. For details on how to use the tool there are ‘User Guide’ and ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ sections of the platform.
Technical development of the tool was done in collaboration with Think A Map.