Puerto Rico’s Farmers Face A Long Road To Recovery Post-Hurricane Maria

The island lost 80 percent of its crop value to the storm — and it could take anywhere from 10 months to a year to get production levels back again.

HATILLO, Puerto Rico ― Clusters of bruised plantains and bags of oranges hung from René “Papo” Cruz’s fruit and vegetable stand on the side of the road. The 60-year-old farmer sat in a worn chair, waiting patiently for customers to buy what he could salvage in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

“There are 68 acres [on my farm] and every single one of them is sown ― well, they were. Now there is nothing,” Cruz told HuffPost, adding that his family depends on what he produces and sells to survive.

In October, when HuffPost visited Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Cruz said he was confident he would receive help from the government, financial assistance to buy seeds and clean up debris. If nothing else, he said, he had at least insured his farm. “But [the company is] not going to pay for everything,” he said. “The loss was too great.”

But when HuffPost reached out to Cruz’s estate last week to follow up on what type of aid he and his family had received, his wife, Limary Perez-Sanchez, 42, said they have not gotten any help from any entity.

Carlos Alberto Flores Ortega, the secretary of the department of agriculture in Puerto Rico, blames limited communication across the island; about quarter of the island still has no access to telecommunications services. Communicating to farmers on how to get aid has been slow going.

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