Puerto Rico faces lowest coffee production ever

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Coffee production in Puerto Rico has hit the lowest level ever in the island's history, leaving farmers and government officials worried about how to revive a once burgeoning industry.

Agriculture Secretary Myrna Comas says farmers produced some 80,000 pounds (36,000 kilograms) of coffee during the most recent harvest, which represents only about a third of local consumption.

The president of the Puerto Rico Coffee Buyers & Growers Association, Wilfredo Ruiz, said Thursday that a severe shortage of coffee pickers, coupled with a lack of seeds and an increase in the cost of fertilizer is to blame.

Comas this week signed an agreement with farmers to plant 16 million coffee trees in upcoming years. She said the move would generate more than 2,500 jobs and benefit about 4,000 coffee farmers.

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