30 percent of Costa Rica coffee harvest could be lost due to fungus

January 15, 2013

A rust fungus commonly known as “roya” that already has caused losses of more than $100 million in Nicaragua could also affect coffee production in Costa Rica, the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG) warned this week.

MAG experts estimate that 30 percent of the local coffee harvest could be lost due to the fungus.

The most affected area is Pérez Zeledón, a southern region of San José, where 7,000 hectares are infected, followed by Coto Brus (south of Puntarenas) with 3,000 hectares, the Central Valley (500 hectares), the West Valley (118 hectares), Los Santos (southeast of the capital, 50 hectares) and Turrialba (east of Cartago, 40 hectares).

Rust fungus (Hemileia vastratrix) affects the leaves of a coffee bush until it completely dries the plant. This fungus is spread by contact from one leaf to another. The fungus does not affect the quality of the coffee but could cause coffee prices to increase.

According to MAG, the situation is so alarming that they are studying the possibility of declaring an emergency.

Coffee producers are very concerned about the situation and will be holding meetings with MAG officials this week to seek solutions.

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