The U.S. Is Pouring Millions Into Latin America’s Fight Against Coffee Disease

A devastating fungus could reduce coffee production in the region by up to 40 percent in the next few years.

National Journal
Kaveh Waddell
May 19, 2014, 11:13 a.m.

A fungus that has already caused more than $1 bil­lion in dam­ages to the cof­fee trade in Lat­in Amer­ica is threat­en­ing to in­flate the price of high-end cof­fee beans — and the United States is wor­ried.

The U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tion­al De­vel­op­ment has an­nounced a $5 mil­lion part­ner­ship with Texas A&M Uni­versity’s World Cof­fee Re­search to com­bat the fungus, known as cof­fee rust, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports. The dis­ease is es­pe­cially dam­aging to the Ar­ab­ica beans used in most spe­cialty cof­fee in the U.S.

The new part­ner­ship brings the total USAID in­vest­ment in the ef­fort to re­verse the ef­fects of cof­fee rust to $14 mil­lion. “Fight­ing epi­dem­ics like cof­fee rust em­power en­tre­pren­eurs and cre­ate sus­tain­able live­li­hoods for fam­il­ies,” said USAID chief Raj Shah, “help­ing en­tire com­munit­ies be­come self-suf­fi­cient.”

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from USAID on Sunday, the blight could re­duce cof­fee pro­duc­tion by 15 per­cent to 40 per­cent in the com­ing years. The agency called this out­break “the worst in Lat­in Amer­ic­an his­tory,” es­tim­at­ing that it would af­fect the live­li­hoods of about 500,000 cof­fee farm­ers in the re­gion. Causes of cof­fee rust vary, ac­cord­ing to World Cof­fee Re­search, and in­clude “cli­mat­ic and patho­lo­gic­al in­ter­ac­tions” as well as farm­ers’ wide­spread use of rust-sus­cept­ible cof­fee plants.

But Amer­ic­an in­volve­ment has less to do with keep­ing the price of lattes low and more to do with the po­ten­tially dis­astrous eco­nom­ic ef­fects for Lat­in Amer­ic­an coun­tries. USAID is es­pe­cially wary that the res­ult­ing food in­sec­ur­ity and poverty could leave cof­fee work­ers sus­cept­ible to the il­leg­al drug trade and sur­round­ing vi­ol­ence, es­pe­cially in coun­tries such as Guatem­ala, Hon­dur­as, and El Sal­vador.

It hasn’t been a good year for cof­fee pro­duc­tion so far. A re­cent drought in Brazil has res­ul­ted in high­er prices and de­creased pro­duc­tion of Ar­ab­ica beans. Ric Rhine­hart of the Spe­cialty Cof­fee As­so­ci­ation of Amer­ica told AP that smal­ler cof­fee com­pan­ies have already seen the ef­fects of the de­crease in sup­ply, not­ing that some vari­et­ies of cof­fee may be­come very pricey or dis­ap­pear al­to­geth­er.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×