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Helping Puerto Rican Smallholder Farmers Rebuild - PART TWO

A Helping Hand from Haiti

It was announced yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery at the University of Miami that the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) and  Visit Rico are undertaking a feasibility study exploring the possibility of reintroducing cotton to Puerto Rico as part of the recovery efforts following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. 

Haiti and Puerto Rico have hurricanes and cotton in common. Both countries have suffered the consequences of being in the Caribbean hurricane belt. Both countries share a common history of cotton production that has been halted for generations. Now that cotton is being reintroduced in Haiti by the SFA, in partnership with Timberland, that experience is being applied to help smallholders in Puerto Rico. It is hoped this new study will lead, as it did in Haiti, to field trials this summer of different varieties of organic cotton that can translate to commercial cultivation starting next year.    

Leading up to yesterday's announcement, Visit Rico has been talking with farmers, fashion students and teachers, local clothing designers and artists throughout Puerto Rico. All agree that there is tremendous potential to reintroduce cotton and create a local market for a cotton industry that extends from farm to fiber products to finished garments.

The two organizations are being joined in undertaking this feasibility study by the Textile Exchange, a global non-profit that works closely with its members to drive industry transformation in preferred fibers, integrity and standards and responsible supply networks. 

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