International Coffee Organisation maps out action on Central America rust outbreak

The International Coffee Organisation has published a report on the outbreak of coffee leaf rust in Central America. The report estimates the outbreak has cost the region about $500 million and almost 400,000 jobs in the 2012-13 coffee crop year. In terms of the world coffee market, the estimated expected losses of 2.7million bags would represent a decrease of 17 per cent on the previous year. In addition, the loss of income of farmers could lead to issues regarding food security in many areas. According to the report, it is expected that the impact will be even more severe in the next crop year 2013/14. On average, more than 50 per cent of the total coffee growing area in Central America has been affected by the pest. The incidence rates are as follows: El Salvador 74 per cent, Guatemala 70 per cent, Costa Rica 64 per cent, Nicaragua 37 per cent and Honduras 25 per cent.

The report contains an action plan to combat the pest, which includes raising public awareness about the outbreak; promoting more sustainable growing practices; a coffee plant renovation program; and assisting the World Bank in developing a study looking at how improved risk management across the coffee sector, in particular for small coffee farmers, might result in better access to finance.

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