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Latino Daily News

Saturday April 6, 2013

Costa Rica Continues to Combat Coffee Fungus

Costa Rica Continues to Combat Coffee Fungus

Photo: Coffee beans

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Costa Rican authorities will begin on April 22 the distribution of packs of agrichemicals that will enable coffee growers to combat a fungus known as leaf rust, which affects some 65 percent of the country’s coffee plantations.

The aid for growers consists of providing packs containing fungicides for spraying, and which can be picked up at 23 offices of the Agriculture and Stockbreeding Ministry, or MAG, around the country.

The executive director of the Costa Rica Coffee Institute, or Icafe, Ronald Peters, said the agrichemicals chosen are well-known to growers and that he was confident they will help solve the problem.

Official figures show that leaf rust has affected 65 percent of the 93,000 hectares (230,000 acres) of coffee plantations in the country, of which 15,000 (37,000) show grave damage.

Crop losses in the 2012-2013 season from the fungus, which weakens the plant, dries the leaves and causes beans to drop off prematurely, are calculated at $44 million.

Last January the Costa Rican government decreed an emergency to deal with leaf rust, which also seriously affects other Central American countries.

In the decree, the authorities set up a fund of $4 million for a plan that included the purchase of agrichemicals and the training of coffee growers.

The aid will go to small farmers who represent 81 percent of the nation’s 52,000 coffee growers.

These small farmers produce close to 25 percent of the Costa Rican harvest.

Icafe estimates show that the spread of leaf rust entails a risk of losing 10.5 percent of the 2013-2014 crop.