Agriculture ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic agreed to give high priority to the implementation of a program to fight the effects of a fungus known as “roya,” which has devastated coffee crops across the region.
The plan will consolidate efforts by various government agencies and does not rule out asking international agencies for help. It is expected to be approved no later than the third week of March.
According to the ministers, who met in San José on Monday and Tuesday, roya has already affected more than 50 percent of the coffee sector in the region.
Data from the Cooperative Program for the Technological Development and Modernization of Coffee estimate regional losses at 20 percent for the 2012-20013 harvest, at a cost of some $500 million.
The International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health also has noted roya outbreaks in Mexico and Colombia.
Costa Rican Agriculture and Livestock Minister Gloria Abraham, who currently chairs the American Agricultural Council, reported that the fungus affected 64 percent of the country’s coffee plantations.
The total affected area is 60,441 hectares, and of that, 26.3 percent has serious damage, 48 percent faces moderate problems and 25.6 percent has only mild problems, the minister said.
In total, Costa Rica has 94,000 hectares of coffee plantations.