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Hispanic Federation launches $2.9M campaign to revitalize P.R.’s coffee sector

The Hispanic Federation, together with the Lin-Manuel Miranda’s family, announced the launch of a five-year initiative to revitalize Puerto Rico’s coffee sector, with a commitment $2.9 million.

The founding partners include:

  • Hispanic Federation, which is contributing $1 million;
  • Nespresso, $1 million;
  • The Rockefeller Foundation, $500,000;
  • Starbucks, which donated 2 million high quality, climate-resilient coffee seeds,
  • TechnoServe, an international nonprofit with a long history of work in the coffee sector, which will lead implementation of the program with a Puerto Rican-led team, and,
  • World Coffee Research.

These investments address the critical needs facing the Puerto Rican coffee industry, which was decimated after hurricanes in 2017 destroyed 80 percent of the coffee trees on the island, group representatives said.

“This important effort to revitalize Puerto Rico’s coffee sector will help to build the economy, bring back jobs and restore hope for so many of our brothers and sisters on the island,” said Rajiv. J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation.

This initiative evolved out of a task force that was formed after Hurricane María, and currently includes Hispanic Federation, Starbucks, World Coffee Research, farmers, academics and other public and private partners, seeking to revitalize Puerto Rico’s coffee sector.

“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.”

“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 $1 million lead investment in this initiative, the Federation brings 28 years of experience and critical knowledge on nonprofit leadership, forging public-private partnerships, and policy advocacy efforts,” Calderón said.

“We will continue to mobilize major investments from well-respected businesses and philanthropic institutions to support local efforts,” he added.

In 2017, the Island’s coffee industry was on track to be worth up to $100 million. With nearly 80 percent of the coffee harvest and trees destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017, 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. This model includes: (1) diversifying and improving the quality of coffee seed material on the island, (2) rebuilding capacity in nurseries, (3) bringing training and best-in-field climate-smart agronomic and business practices to small farmers to elevate the production and quality of the sector, and (4) establishing a network and market opportunities for farmers, organizers said.

“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 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 first-hand the transformative power coffee can have on improving farmer livelihoods, fostering economic development and ultimately rebuilding communities,” he said.

“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,” he said.

“Starbucks is proud to continue supporting the long-term health of coffee farms in Puerto Rico,” said Michelle Burns, Starbucks senior vice president, Global Coffee and Tea. “The rebuilding of the Puerto Rico coffee industry is in the early stages and we are extremely grateful for the contributions from the Hispanic Federation, Nespresso, as well as the ongoing work of the Puerto Rico Coffee Task Force partners.”

“This is an approach that means business working directly with farmers and across sectors to restore so many livelihoods devastated by the hurricane,” said William Warshauer, president of TechnoServe. “We’re looking forward to working with our partners and the resilient farmers of Puerto Rico to rebuild the coffee sector even better than it was before.”

“WCR is committed to helping the coffee farmers of Puerto Rico rebuild their industry. 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,” said Kraig Kraft, Global Programs Director.

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