Things That Matter

Hurricane Maria Devastated Puerto Rico’s Agriculture Industry. This Website Is Helping To Bring It Back

Puerto Rico has faced numerous hardships within the last year as a result of Hurricane Maria. One of the them has been getting fresh produce. Puerto Rico currently imports about 85 percent of its food, a situation that became evident following Maria. That’s why José Nolla Marrero, a 17-year-old Puerto Rican high school student, created E-Farm, a digital e-commerce platform that connects farmers across Puerto Rico with consumers. It’s an ambitious idea that started when Marrero was 15. Two years later is playing a vital role in the revitalization of Puerto Rico.

Food and farming play a huge role in the economic stability of Puerto Rico, which makes platforms like E-farm so important in the island’s recovery.

Before Hurricane Maria hit on Sept. 20, 2017, Puerto Rico was beginning to see signs of an entrepreneurial wave as start up tech companies sprouted up across the island. The 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum ranked Puerto Rico third in the availability of scientists and engineers.

Marrero is the perfect example of this young wave of entrepreneurs but instead of wanting to leave the island he wanted to connect with the people there. He participated in multiple entrepreneurship programs that earned him more than $40,000 in grant and seed money to help him develop the platform.

E-Farm was founded on the basis of helping farmers sell their produce to consumers in a modern way. Through the app, you can see and get to know the farmer and where the food is coming from before you buy it.

“I found out that people wanted a way of buying these products directly and that’s how the idea of E-Farm itself came about,” Marrero told NBC News. “My goal with E-Farm is to make every farmer an entrepreneur, so that they can be self sufficient and that they can sell their products directly to consumers.”

When Hurricane Maria hit, E-Farm’s growth was quickly halted because of what the storm did to produce in Puerto Rico.

When E-Farm first launched there was successes but things quickly turned south when Hurricane Maria hit. The storm devastated about 80 percent of all the island’s crops and damaged Puerto Rico’s dairy industry and coffee plantations.

“Hurricane Maria decimated the entire agricultural industry in Puerto Rico, which made it impossible for me to sell, since none of the farmers could sell themselves. I was also personally impacted,” Marrero told NBC News.

After Maria, there was a sense of isolation on the island since there was no electricity. With no internet and no cell service, E-Farm temporarily shut down and Marrero had difficulty even finishing school since he took online courses.

Today E-Farm is seeing a relaunch as the agriculture industry begins to recover in Puerto Rico.

E-farm today has 24 registered farms on it’s website and has shipped goods to consumers across Puerto Rico, New York, Connecticut and as far west as Montana. Marrer is currently in talks with five other farms as well as he tries to keep growing his brand.

Marrero wants the long term vision for E-Farm to be a bridge between farmers and consumers.

For farmers who sell their products on E-Farm, the platform has been instrumental in getting their businesses back up as well.

“Helping a farmer or helping anyone in your community in particular, I’ll put it this way, it feels better than getting an A+,” Marrero said. “It shows how your work really affects people in a positive way.”


READ: Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Death Toll Is Now Close To 3,000 People Instead Of The 64 People Originally Reported

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A European Sneaker Shops Is Selling The Iconic Puerto Rican Nike’s

Culture

A European Sneaker Shops Is Selling The Iconic Puerto Rican Nike’s

43einhalb / Instagram

A sneaker shop in Germany is selling some of the most iconic Nike sneakers created, the Air Force 1 “Puerto Rico.” The sneakers will be sold at a shop in Germany and fans cannot wait to get their hands on these sneakers.

German sneaker fans have a chance to get their hands on a pair of Nike Air Force 1 “Puerto Rico.”

Credit: 43einhalb / Instagram

On June 2, the shoes will be available at the shop, and fans can’t wait. The shoe is one way for every Puerto Rican to show their pride in where they come from. The shoes were originally released in 2005 and this release is something exciting.

However, U.S. sneakerheads will be left out.

Credit: 43einhalb / Instagram

The store, which is located in central Germany in the city of Fulda won’t be able to shop these to other countries. That being said, only Germans will likely get their hands on these shoes because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Travel is restricted so it seems likely that you will be able to hop on a plane to get these shoes.

Those lucky enough to get their hands on these shoes can expect to spend 130€ ($142) on them.

Credit: 43 einhalb / Instagram

These shoes are not the only way for Puerto Rican fans of Nike shoes to show their cultural pride. The shoe company has other options for the Caribbean people to wear their pride on some sneakers.

The man difference in these shoes from the original is the work on the upper shoe. The upper shoe is a tonal midfoot Swoosh and a navy sockliner. The Puerto Rican flag is embroidered on the tongue and heel fo the shoe to really drive home the Caribbean pride.

Nike has released multiple Puerto Rican-influenced sneakers and they sell quickly.

The sold out Air Max 1 Puerto Rico sold for $140. These were created to celebrate New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade. The sneakers have the words “Pa’lante Mi Gente” on the inside of the tongue giving a special message to all Puerto Ricans. The sneakers are meant to celebrate not just the culture but the strength of the Puerto Rican people to keep moving forward.

READ: After Revealing He Played In Sneakers With Holes As A Kid, Neymar Racks Up An $18,000 Bill On ‘Sneaker Shopping’

Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

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Puerto Rican’s are no stranger to referendums. Since 1967, they’ve had five chances to make their opinions known on U.S. statehood and each and every time, their voice hasn’t been listened to. Congress has failed to take up the issue after each referendum and local leaders are often guilty of using the referendum simply to drudge up support for their candidates.

But this upcoming referendum is different in that it comes at a crossroads for Puerto Rican politics. The island has been plagued by natural disasters, political scandals, and unprecedented hate crimes. Even Bad Bunny is letting his thoughts out on the referendum and many others have lots to say on the issue.

For the first time in the island’s history, the referendum will ask a single question: Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted as a U.S. state?

On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood Republican governor, Wanda Vázquez, announced yet another vote on the question (the sixth since 1967 and the third since 2012). It’s a move that comes amid growing frustration with the island’s territorial government and its relationship with the mainland.

However, it’s a question that also outraged the island’s independence supporters and members of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party – which supports the status quo.

But it’s a gamble that members of the governor’s pro-statehood party are confident will pay off given that Puerto Rico has struggled to obtain federal funds for hurricanes Irma and Maria, a string of recent strong earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic amid growing complaints that the island does not receive fair and equal treatment.

“Our people will have the opportunity once and for all to define our future,” Vázquez said. “It’s never too late to be treated as equals.”

The upcoming referendum is just the recent in a long line of previously failed ones.

In the past, voters have been asked more than one question and presented with various options, including independence or continuing with the current territorial status – but none of them have ever been as direct as the upcoming one scheduled for the November 3 general election.

However, many on the island see the referendum as little more than a political move by the governor’s New Progressive Party to get voters out on Nov 3 – to boost her party’s candidates.

The New Progressive Party has been rattled with scandal after scandal and many are ready for change.

The past few years have not been good for the party – or the island for that matter. A string of devastating hurricanes, a severe debt crisis, ongoing corruption scandals that even forced a pro-statehood governor to resign, earthquakes, and now a global pandemic – have all led to challenging times in Puerto Rico. To some observers, the idea seems to be: Let’s dangle the illusion of a yes or no statehood referendum (nonbinding) that is already dead on arrival?

Many also feel that Gov. Vasquez is not truly authorized to make such a decision since she was never actually elected to the office. Instead, she became governor after Ricardo Rosselló was forced to resign following massive protests.

Meanwhile, the Republican government on the island doesn’t even have the support of the Republican-led federal government. The Trump administration’s blunt response was basically, “The first priority for all Puerto Rico leaders should be getting their financial house in order.”

This coming November, there will be plenty of incentive to vote “no” and punish the Vázquez administration. Even prominent figures such as Bad Bunny are jumping into the fray against her leadership.

What would statehood mean for Puerto Rico?

Statehood would award Puerto Rico two senators and five representatives, but it’s unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress would acknowledge the referendum because Puerto Rico tends to favor Democrats.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. And while the island is exempt from the U.S. federal income tax, it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than U.S. states. Many believe the island’s territorial status has contributed to its struggle to recover from the hurricanes and earthquakes, as well as worsened its economic crisis, largely caused by decades of heavy borrowing and the elimination of federal tax incentives.