Puerto Rico, in collaboration with the SFA (Smallholder Farmers Alliance ), plans to conduct a feasibility study for reintroducing smallholder-grown cotton in the country later this month. With the support of brands, Puerto Rico hopes to replicate the agronomic revitalisation experienced by Haiti through its cotton reintroduction project – conducted by the SFA and Timberland.
The cotton reintroduction project was conceived at the 2017 Textile Exchange conference, as the effects of Hurricane Maria were emotively discussed in relation to the nation’s smallholder farmers. Subsequently, the Puerto Rico Cotton Fund was launched and over $30,000 was pledged to support the immediate implementation of measures such as emergency micro-grants for smallholder farming families and the development of a smallholder recovery program. Cotton production in Puerto Rico collapsed in the early 1930s following a major hurricane and the failure of the nation’s growers to successfully combat plagues and pests such as pink bollworm and cotton boll weevil.
Around five decades later, Haitian cotton growing stopped due to governmental policies of the time, but now with the support of Timberland and the Smallholder Farmers Alliance a new phase of cotton expansion is now underway in the nation.