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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Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

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Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

As the Puerto Rican government is debating a bill on conversion therapy, Kany García is speaking out against the controversial practice. The Boricua singer-songwriter wrote an open letter to the senators in favor of Senate Bill 184, which would help end conversion therapy on the island.

Kany is one of Puerto Rico’s most-decorated artists.

García is one of the Puerto Rico’s top artists. She’s won six Latin Grammy out of a career 20 nominations. In March, she was also nominated for her third Grammy Award for her latest album Mesa Para Dos.

This year Kany celebrated five years since coming out.

On Valentine’s Day 2016, García revealed that she was in a relationship with her partner, Jocelyn Troche. The couple is still going strong with Troche appearing in last year’s “Lo Que En Ti Veo.” She and García share beautiful moments in the video. At November’s Latin Grammy Awards, there was a big wave of artists in the LGBTQ+ community in the major categories, including García, Ricky Martin, Pablo Alborán, and Jesse y Joy’s Joy Huerta.

She’s telling Puerto Rican senators to pass Senate Bill 184 in her letter.

Since coming out, García has remained at the forefront of queer issues in Puerto Rico. The passage of Senate Bill 184 seeks to prohibit conversion therapy. The controversial practice has long harmed LGBTQ+ communities. It’s thought of as a way to rid them of their queer gender or sexual identities.

“Puerto Rico deserves that every girl and boy, every young woman and young man can be who they want to be and love who they want to love,” García wrote in her letter. “This measure has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the protection of Puerto Rican children and youth.”

García speaks from her own experience. “I am an example of how to be faithful to who you are. I am a woman who deeply loves her partner and who is loved by her family and by our people. There is nothing to change. There is nothing to repair. There’s nothing to heal. We have to give the same opportunity that I have had, to be who I am, to all our children and youth.”

García further writes that the bill should be passed as-is without any amendments. According to Al Día news, Popular Democratic Party Senators Gretchen Hau, Elizabeth Rosa Velez, and Migdalia Gonzalez have filed several amendments to Senate Bill 184 as of Wednesday. Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Pierluisi has indicated that he’s ready to override the senators if necessary.

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Read: Thalía, Alejandra Gúzman, Anitta And More Lined-Up for ‘Ellas y Su Música’ Mother’s Day Special

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Rising Star Chesca Talks Career Beginnings, Being a Latina in the Music Industry, Performing at Jimmy Kimmel and More

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Rising Star Chesca Talks Career Beginnings, Being a Latina in the Music Industry, Performing at Jimmy Kimmel and More

Welcome to Spotlight, where we do a deep dive into the careers of artists, producers, songwriters, and more people making an impact in the Latin music industry.

Puerto Rican singer Chesca is the definition of a hustler. She started as the vocalist for her dad’s cover band in Puerto Rico and became her own manager booking shows in places like China and Greece. The world is hers for the taking and she is going for it.

Chesca is ready for global stardom and she’s taking it one step at a time.

During our interview here at Latido Music by mitú, Chesca opened up about how a tragic accident at 11 years old changed her life, how music literally saved her, and the sacrifices she’s had to make to be where she is today.

Watch the full interview below:

Chesca is aware that being a Latina in the music industry isn’t easy but feels compelled to share her story and everything she’s had to do to get here. She would pretend to be her own manager and publicist at the beginning of her career. Chesca would book herself shows around the world where she would get to perform her own original songs. One of her songs actually got picked up by the radio in China, which is a market not many Latin stars even imagine entering, especially not when they’re just starting their careers.

“With everything that I’ve been through, I have a voice, and I have a story to tell that can motivate so many young women, that’s what keeps me going,” Chesca says.

While she had some success performing in English, she felt that she needed to go back to her roots and start doing music in Spanish. The stars aligned, and Chesca was signed by Saban Music Group, and currently has some high-profile collaborations under her belt. She’s behind the viral hit like “Te Quiero Baby (I Love You Baby),” which blew up on TikTok and led her to perform at the Latin Billboards last year with Pitbull.

Chesca most recently performed at the 2021 Latin AMAs red carpet and received a nomination for Best New Latin Artist at the 2021 iHeart Radio Music Awards.

After our conversation with Chesca, it’s clear that she’s making the right moves at the right time to make a name for herself in the industry, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for her career.

READ: Ivy Queen, Goyo, and Chesca to Headline Urban Divas United Concert in April

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