According to APS, “Coffee rust is the most economically important coffee disease in the world, and in monetary value, coffee is the most important agricultural product in international trade.”
Rust, aka Roya, is caused by the fungus Hemileia Vastatrix. It infects individual coffee leaves, eventually inhibiting the plant’s ability to produce cherries. This particular outbreak, believed to be caused by climate change and poor land management, has led many Central American countries to declare a state of emergency. Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador are among the most affected. Experts claim the outbreak could decrease coffee production for the 2013-2014 harvest by up to 50%.
Small-scale farmers in these regions are particularly vulnerable to rust due to high poverty levels and the inability to invest in proper prevention techniques.
“This is a structural crisis for the sector. In fact, this is a critical moment for small producers. Those that can’t update their technologies will be forced to abandon production.”- Antonio Cordon, CRECER.
Here at Fair Trade USA, we’re committed to helping small-scale Fair Trade farmers not only fight the current Roya outbreak, but also to prevent future outbreaks. That’s why we’ve developed the Rust Response Fund, designed to support rust mitigation and prevention in the most affected regions. Here’s what you should know:
If you love coffee, and Fair Trade, help us support our amazing producer partners in their effort to fight the Roya. You can be part of the solution.