Hurricane Maria decimated about 80% of the crop value in Puerto Rico in a matter of hours, making it one of the costliest storms to hit the island’s agriculture industry, said Carlos Flores Ortega, Puerto Rico’s secretary of the Department of Agriculture, according to an article in The New York Times.
The Category 4 hurricane, which made landfall on Wed., Sept. 20, caused a loss of $780 million in agriculture yields, according to the department’s preliminary figures, as cited by The Times. Hurricane Georges in 1998 wiped out about 65% of crops and Hurricane Irma, which only grazed the island, took out about $45 million in agriculture production, the article said.
The article quoted farmer Jose A. Rivera, who said: “Sometimes when there are shortages, the price of plantain goes up from $1 to $1.25. This time, there won’t be any price increase; there won’t be any product … When I heard the meteorologist say that the two had turned into a three and then a four, I thought, ‘Agriculture in Puerto Rico is over.’ This really is a catastrophe.”