“It’s been our great leap forward,” beamed Luiz Samper, a marketing director at the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC).
Samper is referring to the latest set of figures which suggest that the amount of high quality Arabica coffee that is grown in Colombia is set to rise and reach ‘pre-crisis’ levels in the not too distant future. Even better, forecasters are predicting further growth over the next couple of years.
Production in the South American country has been devastated in recent years. Like so many coffee growing regions in the Americas, farmers in Colombia have been contending with wildly fluctuating climatic conditions and the devastating roya disease.
Also known as coffee rust, roya has been plaguing everywhere from Colombia through to Hawaii.
Before the outbreak of rust in 2008, Colombia produced some 12.6m bags of coffee in 2007. The following year exports dropped a little before plummeting to the 8m mark in 2009 where they would remain until 2013.
In a bit to combat the disease, the country embarked on an ambitious replanting process and replaced over 3 billion coffee trees with disease resistant varieties.
This resurgence might be coming at the right time too. Brazil’s loss could well be Colombia’s gain.
“[Brazil’s] weather since the start of the year has been less than ideal,” says Carlo Mera, a commodities analyst based in London.
If so, that means the price of coffee isn’t likely to drop any time soon, allowing Colombian farmers to reap the economic rewards of their hard work. If anything, it is a windfall that will be fully deserved.