Puerto Rico imports 85% of its food, which hurts local jobs. Let's change that by supporting hurricane recovery and reshaping the local food economy.
Achieving Big Impact in Our Inaugural Year
In collaboration with our donors and knowledge partners in the agricultural sector, the Paloma del Carmen Fund has impacted over 400 lives in its inaugural year. Without the help of our supporters, none of this would have been possible: harvests would not be coming in this fall, piers would not be rebuilt, and many more Puerto Ricans would be without work and without a way to support their families.
Donations to our non-profit have created a ripple effect, not only making small businesses more productive and individual lives safer but also strengthening the Puerto Rican economy. Although we have so much more to do, it's important to take stock of what we've been able to accomplish together in the face of unimaginable devastation. So, it's with thankful hearts that we present you with this snapshot of our progress as of November 1, 2018:
Reshaping Puerto Rico's Food Economy
Puerto Rico's recovery must address rebuilding the island's economy, not just its infrastructure. We are specifically focused on reshaping the island's food economy. Puerto Rico currently imports a whopping 85% of its food, which diminishes job opportunities and quality of life, not to mention the island's culture.
In an interview we did with Carlos Flores Ortega, Puerto Rico's Secretary of Agriculture, he had this to say about the island's current food economy and the territory's 8-year plan to begin transforming it:
"The economic impact of reducing food imports on the island represents not only direct benefits to local producers but also to the value-added and food processing industry. Puerto Rico imports 85% of its food supply and only locally produces 15%. Our goal is to reduce imports to 70% and double the local production up to 30% in the next eight years, which is feasible if we follow our agriculture plan. This could represent $1.7 billion in the yearly agriculture net income of direct farm sales [also known as farm-to-table] and more than $4.3 billion to the food industry overall. The immediate impact will benefit rural areas with the creation of thousands of jobs and better opportunities to maintain this population with a decent way of living." – Carlos Flores Ortega, Secretary of Agriculture, Puerto Rico
Kicking Off Our Long-Term Plan
Our immediate plan is to help as many small farms and fishing associations as possible recover from Hurricane Maria. Our long-term plan, which we will begin implementing in 2019, is to help Puerto Rico sustainably maximize its local food production by improving the connection between local supply and demand through:
Educating Farmers and Fishermen — Develop programs to improve the entrepreneurial skills of local food producers and networking events to share best practices.
Educating Chefs — Create campaigns to connect local chefs with the farms and fishing associations we support while conveying the economic, cultural, and health impacts restaurants can make when they cook with local food products.
Educating Consumers — Sponsor consumer farm tours and local school visits to farms and production facilities.
Collaborative Partnerships — Develop relationships with businesses, such as hotels and grocers, that can magnify the impact of our effort.
New Technologies — Encourage the adoption of new technologies such as PRoduce, an app that connects local food producers and local chefs.
Microlending — Provide low-cost microloans to farmers and fishing associations to support growth and use the interest earned to fund new initiatives.