Lawmakers approve assistance funds for Costa Rican coffee farmers
All 45 lawmakers present on Monday at the Legislative Assembly approved in a first round of debate a bill to provide financial assistance to coffee farmers affected by rust fungus.
The bill establishes an initial $40 million fund financed by Finance Ministry bonds, subject to approval by lawmakers.
According to the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry, Costa Rica could lose some 18 percent of its coffee crop this year due to the spread of the fungus in local plantations.
Anie Saborio, a lawmaker from the ruling National Liberation Party, said the fund will benefit some 57,000 farmers whose production does not exceed 100 bushels.
Rust fungus is a disease that infects the leaves of a coffee bush, causing them to dry up and die prematurely.
Lawmakers are expected to discuss the bill in a second and final round of debate on Thursday.
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