Hurricane Maria’s aftermath: ‘There will be no food in Puerto Rico’

YABUCOA, Puerto Rico — José A. Rivera, a farmer on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, stood in the midst of his flattened plantain farm on Sunday and tried to tally how a lot Hurricane Maria had value him.

“How do you calculate the whole lot?” Rivera stated.

For so far as he might see, each certainly one of his 14,000 timber was down. Similar for the yam and candy pepper crops. His neighbor, Luis A. Pinto Cruz, recognized to everybody right here as “Piña,” figures he’s out about $300,000 value of crops. The foreman down the road, Félix Ortiz Delgado, spent the afternoon scrounging up the scraps that have been left of the farm he manages. He discovered a few dozen dried ears of corn that he might feed the chickens. The wind had claimed the remaining.

“There might be no meals in Puerto Rico,” Rivera predicted. “There isn’t a extra agriculture in Puerto Rico. And there will not be any for a yr or longer.”

Hurricane Maria made landfall right here Wednesday as a Class four storm. Its drive and fury stripped each tree of not simply the leaves, but in addition the bark, leaving a wealthy agricultural area wanting like the results of a postapocalyptic drought. Rows and rows of fields have been denuded. Crops merely blew away.

In a matter of hours, Hurricane Maria worn out about eighty % of the crop worth in Puerto Rico — making it one of many costliest storms to hit the island’s agriculture business, stated Carlos Flores Ortega, Puerto Rico’s secretary of the Division of Agriculture.

Throughout the island, Maria’s extended barrage took out whole plantations and destroyed dairy barns and industrial hen coops. Plantain, banana and occasional crops have been the toughest hit, Flores stated. Landslides within the mountainous inside of the island took out many roads, a serious a part of the agriculture infrastructure there.

The island suffered a lack of $780 million in agriculture yields, in accordance with the division’s preliminary figures. Hurricane Georges in 1998 worn out about sixty five % of crops and Hurricane Irma, which solely grazed the island, took out about $forty five million in agriculture manufacturing.

Felix Ortiz Delgado appears over the ruined nursery the place he works as a foreman, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Sept. 24, 2017. (Victor J. Blue/The New York Occasions)

For greater than four hundred years, Puerto Rico’s financial system was based mostly on agriculture, traditionally targeted on sugar cane, tobacco and citrus fruits. The island’s financial system quickly industrialized after World Conflict II, resulting in the downfall of agriculture manufacturing. In…

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