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

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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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It's Halloween So The Offensive Costumes Have Already Started, Like Fashion Nova's Sexy Selena Costume

Things That Matter

It’s Halloween So The Offensive Costumes Have Already Started, Like Fashion Nova’s Sexy Selena Costume

Fashion Nova

Halloween is right around the corner which means people everywhere are looking for the costumes. This also means people testing the boundaries of cultural appropriation which can make the season a bit uneasy, especially for Latinos. Halloween can be a time for people to get really creative or just be plain offensive. For California brand Fashion Nova, some are questioning their just released line of Halloween costumes that include the iconic purple Selena jumpsuit and a family collection of Día de Muertos costumes.

The Fashion Nova Selena costume is named “La Flor” and is getting attention for being much more revealing than the original outfit.

The famed purple jumpsuit is from Selena’s last performance at the Houston Astrodome back in 1995 and is one of her most recognizable outfits. Some fans aren’t too happy with Fashion Nova’s version of the outfit because of the revealing top and their attempt to make money off of the iconic singer’s name.

This isn’t the first time the iconic outfit has been at the back end of some controversy.

One person took to Twitter and said Selena’s “dad would’ve smacked her if she wore this.” This isn’t the first time the outfit has been replicated, just last year Kim Kardashian wore the purple jumpsuit and got some flack for it. While the outfit may not be culturally insensitive, it shows that Selena’s fans are always willing to stand up and defend her name.

This “Dia de los Muertos” collection is also a bit questionable.

Latinos are constantly defending Dia de los Muertos, the multi-day holiday in Mexico celebrating those who have died, because people continue to misappropriate it’s true meaning. With the success of the Día de Muertos inspired Pixar movie “Coco,” it’s no surprise that Fashion Nova tried to cash in on the moment. The collection has three Día de Muertos costumes, including “Señorita Muerte,” which is already sold out, a “Mr. Muerte” costume, and a “Day of the Dead Boy” costume. While it’s not your typical Mexican sombrero and mustache costume, this is still cultural appropriation, especially when trying to replicate a cultural holiday that represents those who’ve passed.

Fashion Nova has been called out before for appropriating and stealing artist work.

The fashion line is most known for catering it’s clothes for curvy women and selling reasonably priced trending outfits. But it has also had it’s share of criticism for appropriating certain styles and using artists work without consent. Just earlier this year, Jai Nice, designer of the brand Kloset Envy, called out Fashion Nova for stealing her design and stealing off black culture. Mitú reached out to Fashion Nova but there has been no response as this time.


READ: 20 Latino Celebrities Who Dressed Up For Halloween Last Year To Inspire You This Year

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