(March 12 – Orocovis, P.R.) – Today the secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Housing, William Rodríguez Rodríguez, delivered the first three grants under the CDBG-DR Re-Grow program, which seeks to develop greater agricultural capacity and supply resources to meet the needs created by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The grant will inject a total of $339,000 into the economy of the municipalities of Orocovis, Florida, and Aguada. The first aids were granted to Empresas Agrícolas El Paraíso, Pajonal Dairy, and Emilio Hernández Ríos.

“Through the Re-Grow program, we’re promoting and improving food security throughout the Island. The program will allow us to improve and expand agricultural production by including it in economic revitalization and sustainable development activities. This is a great promise for Puerto Rico and we’re very satisfied to see this program underway,” said the secretary.

The official added that “as a subrecipient, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust is available to support applicants in the administrative process, so we invite them to take advantage of the opportunity to revitalize their agricultural production through this incentive under CDBG-DR funds. We will continue our efforts so that more farmers can have access to this grant.”

This allocation will largely be for the acquisition of mobile equipment, such as refrigerated trucks, heavy machinery, mixers, fences, and irrigation materials. With this equipment, farms will be able to expand their agricultural operations and take their business to the next level.

The Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust is the subrecipient and administrator for Re-Grow Puerto Rico, through which grants and technical assistance are provided to eligible applicants.

The chief executive officer of the Trust, Lucy Crespo, said that “since the Department of Housing named the Science Trust as a sub-recipient of the Re-Grow Puerto Rico Program, our personnel has worked tirelessly to develop the program’s support infrastructure, providing information about this great opportunity to members of the agricultural sector and facilitating and expediting the application project in collaboration with them.”

Crespo also added that “as these grants are delivered today, it’s gratifying to see that we’re making a difference in the economic development of this industry, helping to meet its needs, which will significantly advance Puerto Rico’s firm progress toward food security and economic recovery.”

Empresas Agrícolas El Paraíso in Orocovis has operated for five years and has focused on growing lettuce and cilantro. Their product is delivered to distributors who in turn service local restaurants and grocery stores. The business also takes its product to the Department of Education’s School Cafeteria Program.

Meanwhile, Pajonal Dairy, located in the municipality of Florida, produces Grade A milk for Puerto Rico’s dairy industry and its product is distributed to residents throughout the Island.

The Emilio Hernández Ríos farm in Aguada focuses on the production of farinaceous foods, vegetables, fruits, and the production of tilapia, shrimp, and bass. The farm has an irrigation system that allows for year-round sowing. This project supplies grocery stores and restaurants in the Western region.

The Re-Grow Program focuses on small and medium farms, agricultural businesses, and non-government organizations that participate in sustainable agricultural activities that were affected by the 2017 hurricanes.

The amounts for the grants vary from $25,000 to $150,000. The grants awarded will be determined based on the information presented in the application and will be narrowed down further through the evaluation process.

Through the CDBG-DR grant, the Department of Housing is addressing the Island’s unmet economic needs in order to promote the sustainable long-term revitalization of all industries and sectors through a group of economic development programs.

Some costs eligible under the Re-Grow grants include agricultural infrastructure; tools and equipment; production supplies; production transportation and harvesting vehicles; or land, which must be purchased or secured through a long-term agricultural lease. The grants will also provide technical support to recipients.