Coffee leaf rust to cost half a billion in Central America revenue losses: ICO.

Coffee prices continued to stabilise in March , despite the epidemic of coffee leaf rust in Central America that will cause a minimum loss of 2.3 million bags to the 2012-13 crop year.  The International Coffee Organisation (ICO) Composite indicate price averaged 131.38 US cents per pound in March, roughly the same level as February 2013. The ICO noted that the monthly average is 21.7 per cent lower than in March 2012. “Prices seem to have steadied in recent months, after falling over the course of 2012,” the ICO remarked in its monthly statement.  At the 110th Session of the International Coffee Council from 4 – 8 March, the weighting of each coffee group in the calculation of this composite price was altered, to increase the weight of Robustas while decreasing the weight of Colombian Milds. In terms of exports, the ICO said that Robustas now account for 40.1 per cent of total shipments, compared to 35.8 per cent for the first five months of the 2011-12 coffee year.  World production is estimated to reach 144.6 million bags, representing a 6.4 per cent increase on the previous year. Losses in Central America are expected to be compensated by increased production in other countries, particularly Brazil, Indonesia and Ethiopia.   The ICO estimates that the coffee leaf rust outbreak in Central America will cause a minimum loss of 2.3 million bags for the 2012-13 crop year, worth around US$548.2 million. The social cost to coffee farmers is estimated to be around 441,000 direct job losses in PROMOCAFÉ countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Nearly 53 per cent of the coffee production area in these countries has been affected.  “The current outbreak of coffee leaf rust in Central America is considered one of the worst ever recorded,” the ICO stated. 

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