Agriculture Dept. grants incentives to strengthen island coffee industry
By The Star Staff
With an allocation of $2.4 million through the Regional Agricultural Incentives Program, some 1,651 acres (1,700 cuerdas) in Puerto Rico will be cultivated with coffee trees in order to strengthen the industry and guarantee the consumption of the local product, Agriculture Secretary Ramón González Beiró announced on Monday.
Bonafide coffee growers may apply for incentives in any of the eight agricultural regions for the acquisition of coffee trees, pruning of trees, and replanting and planting. The initiative is part of an effort to continue encouraging expansion and creation of new projects to increase the production and consumption of purely Puerto Rican products.
“We have seen a notable increase in the production of the coffee industry and we want Puerto Rico to continue making a name for itself with local coffee,” the Agriculture chief said in a written communication. “We want to improve productivity, harvests and marketing, and in this sense the Department is identifying economic resources and tools to direct them to our farmers. With these incentives, over 1,700 cuerdas on the island will be cultivated with coffee trees. We are going to continue injecting agriculture in favor of our agribusiness [sector] and our population.”
González Beiró noted that the last harvest was 40,000 quintals (approximately 147,000 bushels) and with this effort the goal will be to reach 100,000 quintals (some 367,400 bushels) by 2026.
He said the funds will be available until Sept. 30 and applicants will have to meet the eligibility requirements. Some of those are: having a valid legal tenure, having a production record, complying with the Department of Agriculture’s Statistics Division survey, presenting a project proposal, presenting quotes and other data depending on the coffee program under which the request is made.
The official added that the incentives are under three categories, according to the administrative order that will be in force until June 30, 2023. New Coffee Plantings consists of the granting of the donation of a voucher of 1,000 coffee trees per cuerda (.97 acre), up to a maximum of 20 cuerdas (19.4 acres) per farmer and per year, whose purchase order value is $900. In addition, vouchers will be awarded for fertilizers, limestone and pesticides. The purchase order for fertilizers is worth $150, pesticides are $100, and lime carbonate is worth $200.
“Aware of climate change and the pressing need of coffee growers to obtain aid, we have established some parameters for granting incentives in accordance with the needs that they have expressed to us in order to put their farms into production,” González Beiró pointed out.
Based on this, the pruning of coffee trees will be encouraged, a fundamental agricultural practice that consists of eliminating part of the plant to obtain shoots that improve production, with an economic aid of $50 per pruned cuerda. In addition, a fertilizer voucher of $75 per cuerda will be awarded. The minimum approval is one cuerda and the maximum is 10 cuerdas, per farmer and per year.
The Replanting and Orderly Planting of Coffee Program, meanwhile, which is aimed at maintaining stable production, will be incentivized with a purchase order of 60 cents per coffee tree, up to a maximum of 5,000 trees per farmer per year, at a rate of 1,000 seedlings per cuerda. The retail value of the tree is 90 cents. The farmer’s cost will be only 30 cents.