The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) has revealed its concern that El Niño has affected a significant portion of the country’s coffee crops. Following an analysis of the country’s coffee producing regions, the FNC said it fears reduced rainfall caused by the phenomenon could drastically hurt production. “We estimate that nearly 18 per cent of the expected harvest for the second semester of 2015 will be compromised in one way or another by the lack of rain,” said Roberto Vélez, the FNC’s new CEO. Coffee grower representatives have expressed their concern for an increase in costs associated with El Niño. The FNC said producers are reporting a predicted 50 per cent increase in labor costs due the growing need for pest control and reduced efficiency in harvesting and processing. “Of course we are worried,” said Vélez. “Coffee growers are experiencing an increase in their costs and a decrease in their income.” Velez said the FNC expected this to be the case throughout the next semester and into 2016. “If the intensity of El Niño is as predicted, we will be dealing with a complex situation in terms of income and production costs,” he said. El Niño arises when the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean is at least 0.5°C above the normal average for three consecutive months. This causes a significant reduction in rainfall in the Andean Colombian region, leading to a deficiency in soil moisture. This is especially the case for un-shaded coffee plantations. The FNC’s Departmental Coffee Grower Committees are closely monitoring the phenomenon to provide coffee growers with a range of solutions to help them be prepared. “We are intensifying our campaigns in order to encourage producers to adopt intelligent weeding practices and shading in new plantations; to fertilise, to intensify pest management, and, in some extreme cases, to avoid planting new crops,” said Carlos Uribe, Technical Manager of the FNC. The FNC will present a proposal to the Colombian government comprising different initiatives to support the coffee growers affected by El Niño.