Cornucopia’s Take: While financial uncertainty hangs over Puerto Rico, small farms are popping up, providing jobs and food. The Puerto Rican government is supporting agriculture of all types. With GMO trial fields in place since 2011, Bayer has announced intentions to open two large biotech facilities there.
GUANICA, Puerto Rico – Puerto Ricans are buying rice produced on the island for the first time in nearly 30 years. They are also eating locally grown mushrooms, kale and even arugula, along with more traditional crops such as plantains and pineapples.
The U.S. territory is seeing something of an agricultural renaissance as new farms spring up across the island, supplying an increasing number of farmers’ markets and restaurants to meet consumer demand for fresher produce.
Farming has become one of the few areas of growth on an island struggling to emerge from a 10-year-old recession and a still-unfolding debt crisis. The most recent statistics from the governor’s office show farm income grew 25 percent to more than $900 million in 2012-2014. The amount of acreage under cultivation rose 50 percent over the past four years, generating at least 7,000 jobs.