Hurricane Otto caused $15 million in losses for Costa Rican coffee sector

December 12, 2016

Hurricane Otto caused severe losses to coffee producers to the tune of  ₡8.37 billion (approximately $15 million), according to estimates from the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE).

ICAFE’s report came following a first damage assessment following the hurricane, which made landfall in Costa Rica on Nov. 24, and a subsequent cold front. The report states that the most affected farms are those in southern cantons including Buenos Aires, Coto Brus and Pérez Zeledón. The latter two are historically Costa Rica’s largest coffee-producing areas.

Damage at farms in Pérez Zeledón represent nearly 20 percent of their production. Farms in Coto Brus and Buenos Aires reported losses of up to 25 percent of their production, ICAFE noted.

Strong gusts and heavy showers from the hurricane caused leaves, flowers, and cherries to fall from the plants. In addition, saturated soils from persistent rainfall accelerated the maturity of the fruit on the bush. ICAFE found that damage and crop losses at the other coffee regions in the country were not as severe as in the Southern Zone, however.

The institute noted that in addition to coffee crop losses, many farmers will be forced to invest in repairs on roads, bridges and other  damaged infrastructure on their farms.

Devastating effects

Floods and strong gusts from Hurricane Otto caused the deaths of ten people and damage to more than 270 houses.

Harsh weather conditions forced thousands of families to leave their homes and move into shelters during the last days of November. Housing costs from the storm could cost upwards of ₡1.8 billion (more than $3 million).

The hurricane also damaged 92 national routes at 394 points. The Public Works and Transport Ministry and the National Roadway Council last week estimated that they have invested ₡11.59 billion ($21 million) in repair work on these roads.

Strong gusts also caused a total of 60,317 electrical cuts throughout the country

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