More than 1,000 students hit Puerto Rico’s coffee fields over the weekend to pick the ripe beans alongside a crew of government officials, the Agriculture Department confirmed.
Led by Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock and Agriculture Secretary Neftalí Soto, students enrolled in public and private schools, as well as belonging to Boys Scouts troops, picked coffee at 14 farms along Puerto Rico’s coffee belt: Lares, Las Marías, Maricao, San Sebastián, Utuado and Adjuntas.
This initiative aims to move youth from the city to the country, while helping farmers who are hard-pressed to find willing coffee pickers to harvest this year’s crops.
“If we want to develop future farmers, we need to encourage the commitment and interest of young people in agriculture at an early age,” Soto said. “So it’s important that these young people get real work experience in agricultural projects.”
The initiative is one of several the agency is conducting to recruit full time coffee pickers during this year’s harvest, mostly government assistance programs beneficiaries, who will not be penalized for working in the fields.