Coffee Rust Decimating Mexico’s Coffee Harvest

Coffee Leaf Rust

A combination of disease and aging plants has left the Mexican coffee industry with one of its smallest harvests in recent years.

Last week, the National Union of Coffee Producers predicted that crop levels for the current 2015-16 season could be as low as 1.5 million bags of coffee – a fifty percent decline compared to last year’s 3 million total.

“Just five years ago we were producing 5 million bags per season,” said Gabriel Barreda, the president of the producer’s union.

Date made available from the Agriculture Secretariat, Sagarpa, has shown that coffee production in Mexico has dropped by 61% over the course of the past seven years.

The primary reason for such a drop is the onset of an aggressive form of the roya fungus.

This particularly nasty strain first appeared in Mexico four years ago but the authorities were collectively slow to react to it.

Leaf rust disease arrived at a time when the nation’s coffee crop was at its most vulnerable, something which only exasperated the problem.

According to Barreda, Mexico’s coffee farmers need to replace about 70% of their trees. He admits that it is an ambitious but necessary plan that “should be implemented in the next four years.”

Aside from seeing crop decimated by roya, many farmers are now battling with aging crops that cannot produce as much coffee as they once could.

Official statistics indicated that around 500,000 producers are directly reliant on the coffee industry from their livelihood. The industry is also responsible for a further two million jobs in the country.

By Smartse (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

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