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NRCS Announces 2022 Caribbean Area Conservation Innovation Grant Awardees

Two projects in Puerto Rico to receive about $175K
Publish Date
Puerto Rico coffee processing plant

NRCS Announces 2022 Caribbean Area Conservation Innovation Grant Awardees: Two projects in Puerto Rico to receive almost $175K. The two awarded projects focus on regenerative agriculture & multispecies shade coffee agroforestry.

(en Español)

NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Luis Cruz-Arroyo, is pleased to announce the recipients of fiscal year 2022 Conservation Innovation Grants for the Caribbean Area. Two projects were selected from a total of 10 submissions.

“Through CIG, NRCS seeks projects that demonstrate, evaluate and quantify the effects of conservation practices, systems and strategies to protect and improve natural resources in the Caribbean Area,” said Director Cruz.

The two awarded projects focus on developing and demonstrating cutting-edge ideas to further advance innovation in resource conservation on private lands in the Caribbean Area. The Fiscal Year 2022 Caribbean Area CIG awardees and projects are:

  • Dr. Jesyka Meléndez for the project, “Restoring Impacted Soils via Regenerative Agriculture in Rural Puerto Rico: A Market-Scale Demonstration Farm” ($99,949). The future of Puerto Rico’s food security depends on our ability to help small farms implement economically and locally accessible regenerative practices that restore and maintain soil health while also diversifying crops and growing more nutrient-dense food. From September 2022 to 2025, the applicant will use no-till regenerative agricultural practices to restore highly impacted soils and recruit local small-scale farmers to learn about and apply these techniques on their farms. They aim to develop a demonstration no-till farm in eastern-central Puerto Rico using locally available materials and easily applied techniques.
  • Shade coffee farm in Maricao, PR.
  • Félix Rivera Montalvo for the project, “Ecosystem Services Validation of a Multispecies Canopy Coffee Agroforestry System” ($75,000). This project will provide needed data on the magnitude of the effects that multispecies tree canopies have on a coffee plantation and the extent of its total agricultural and ecological productivity. They aim to validate innovative water management techniques in the Caribbean to increase water infiltration and retention to mitigate extended drought and climate change. The specific objectives are to establish baseline data models at the start of the project and measure environmental conditions in four sites, two with a multi-species canopy agroforestry system and two non-shade coffee production systems, for a period of 24 months. The applicant will analyze the collected data to determine measured fluctuations and corelate to each system’s productivity, habitability, and plant health conditions; augment collected data with other reference data from qualified sources as needed; and develop specific management recommendations and implementation models and protocols.

CIG is a voluntary program to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection. Under CIG, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or nongovernmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals. Grantees must work with producers and forestland owners to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies related to agricultural production and participation in EQIP and related Farm Bill Programs.

The 2022 Caribbean CIG focused on Interim practice validation for Infiltration ditches; Water quality, specifically nutrient management and sediment control; Climate change; Soil health management systems implementation trials; Erosion management and monitoring on steep land; Urban conservation soil test guidelines; and Waste management. Projects benefiting historically underserved producers were given special consideration. CIG results are anticipated to advance the foundation for sustainable agriculture and enable producers to conserve their natural resources.

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