In Puerto Rico, coffee is culturally and economically significant. Coffee is also extremely vulnerable to climate change. When hurricanes Irma and María struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, it resulted in an estimated loss of 85% of coffee production. Farmers who decided to continue producing coffee were met with a variety of challenges and opportunities, which emerged in the context of a non-sovereign nation in the Caribbean with a diaspora whose population is larger than that of the archipelago. The coffee sector then demonstrated an array of adaptation responses that varied in regard to type of farm, farming practices, funding, access to necessary inputs, involvement with local and diaspora-led organizations, governance, and the combinations of all these and other factors.
This research centers on that diversity in response strategies and its implications for understanding adaptation in the context of climate change and disasters. Taking a grounded approach, it seeks to conceptually challenge predominant perceptions of climate change adaptation, namely vulnerability, resilience, and adaptive capacity, as well as how a disaster materializes. It further seeks to establish a framework based on the evolution of (inter)relationships in the coffee sector, examining interactions among human and non-human actors as a key element in the dynamically evolving processes of adaptation.
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