Growing coffee — a reliable staple in Central America — has become increasingly risky in recent years as climate change has caused evermore extreme weather. But farmers who take on this heightened risk are not reaping greater rewards due to a constellation of factors from volatile coffee markets to droughts to inefficient management, according to experts at Costa Rica's annual Sintercafe coffee trade conference.
A consortium of scientists announced Thursday in Science that they've sequenced the coffee genome for the first time. By determining all of the genes that make up robusta coffee, a plant variety that accounts for about one-third of the world's consumption, they've opened the door to better breeding practices and even genetic engineering.
Central American coffee farmers have struggled with a ravenous fungus, drought and low prices for the last several years, but it looks like the 2014/2015 harvest might start to turn the corner, according to reports from governments across the isthmus. Higher potential production and buoying coffee prices might be the jolt the region needs to kick off its recovery.
A new smart phone app could help warn coffee farmers in Costa Rica about an impending outbreak of the fungus roya, or other pests. Developed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Satcafe crowdsources information from farmers across Central America to help avoid another region-wide coffee plague.
The Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFÉ) on Tuesday said current estimates indicate the 2014-2015 coffee harvest will be better than the previous season, due mostly to the implementation of better agricultural practices and actions to control rust fungus.
Central American countries have spent years battling the crippling coffee fungus known as roya or leaf rust. Now the U.S. Agency for International Development has decided to get involved in fighting the epidemic.