A plague of coffee rust, which is a damaging fungus, caused Costa Rican coffee exports to decline by 13 percent in the last harvest season, according to data from the International Coffee Organization (ICO) in Switzerland.
The decrease was observed by comparing figures obtained in the first seven months of the coffee production period, which runs from October 2012 to April 2013.
Agriculture Vice Minister Xinia Chaves said that projections for the next harvest period will be ready in the next two weeks.
Experts from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry currently are inspecting the regions in Costa Rica most affected by the fungus, including Pérez Zeledón, a Southern Zone canton, and Coto Brus, in the Pacific province of Puntarenas.
Chaves said the “most optimistic estimates for the next coffee cycle indicate a 20 percent decrease in crops, equivalent to some 200,000 sacks.”
The vice minister also said ministry officials are working with the Mixed Institute for Social Aid to provide assistance to families who lost their entire harvest to coffee rust.
According to ministry data, some 52,000 coffee producers in Costa Rica were affected, of which 92 percent is small producers.