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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
SCENE APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN CLEANED, SANITIZED
Turks Say They Found Evidence that Khashoggi Was Killed in Embassy
1 days ago
THE LATEST
SAYS MBS CAN NEVER BE A WORLD LEADER
Graham Threatens Sanctions on Saudi Arabia
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“I’m not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as" Mohammed Bin Salman is in charge, Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Fox News today. “I’ve been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate. This guy is a wrecking ball. He had [Khashoggi] murdered in a consulate in Turkey and to expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused. The MBS figure is to me toxic, he can never be a world leader on the world stage.” Graham added that he intends to "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.”

Source:
INTERROGATION GONE WRONG
Report: Saudis Planning to Admit to Khashoggi Killing
2 days ago
THE LATEST
TURKEY STILL DECRIES LACK OF COOPERATION
Saudis Will Let Turkish Officials Search Embassy
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Saudi Arabia has given Turkey permission to search its Istanbul consulate Monday afternoon, a Turkish diplomatic source told CNN. Saudi officials first granted permission for the consulate to be searched last week, but later asked for a delay and no search has yet taken place. Turkish officials also want to search the nearby consul general's residence, and have repeatedly accused the Saudis of failing to cooperate with their investigation."

Source:
"OUR SAUDI ARABIAN CITIZEN"
Pompeo To Discuss Khashoggi With Saudi King
2 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login