Five years ago, Hurricane Maria proved how vulnerable Puerto Rico’s food systems were. In the years since then, Puerto Rico has seen a resurgence in small-scale farming and projects that educate locals about where their food comes from. Many have learned to rely heavily on regenerative growing practices, like crop rotation and using shading plants.
The US territory is vulnerable to a number of natural disasters, including intense tropical storms and drought. Hurricane seasons, made longer and more intense by climate change, have left behind a fragile electric grid that causes regular power outages, disrupting daily life, work and education for Puerto Ricans. More than 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s food is imported, so when a major storm hits, it can delay shipments from the mainland. Residents are left with half-empty shelves at the store.
Rising costs of living on the island combined with higher food prices worldwide will only make it more difficult for Puerto Rican families to prepare for future natural disasters. Supporting local farmers can improve food security across the island. What’s more, events like Hurricane Maria present opportunities for farmers to build more resilient systems.