Experts are warning that an ongoing plague of rust fungus could cause Costa Rica’s coffee production to drop by 20 percent in 2014.
The fungus has already caused coffee harvests to decrease by seven percent in 2012, the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG) said.
Ministry officials expect some 1.8 million sacks – of 46 kilograms each – will be produced during the 2013-2014 harvest, a decrease from 2.2 million sacks in the 2012-2013 period.
To help mitigate damage, some 33,000 coffee growers have received an agrochemical package provided by MAG and the Costa Rican Coffee Institue (ICAFE) to fight the rust, a fungus that attacks the leaves of a coffee bush until it completely dries the plant.
But some 35 percent of coffee growers still have not received the agrochemicals. According to MAG officials, the gap in distribution of fungus-fighting chemicals is due to a lack of access to information and a delay in the arrival of one of the chemicals that is part of the package.
ICAFE officials said the product will arrive in the country this week. They expect the number of coffee growers that will be covered to total 75 percent of all producers, and the aid program will continue through this month.
According to MAG data, some 52,000 coffee producers in Costa Rica were affected by rust fungus, of which 92 percent is small producers. It has caused Costa Rican coffee exports to decrease by 13 percent in the last harvest season.