NEW YORK – Central America, southern Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean are experiencing one of the worst recorded outbreaks of coffee rust.
It is a devastating disease for coffee plants, threatening the livelihoods and food security of smallholder coffee farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that coffee production in Mexico and Central America will decline by seven percent this year and may fall even further next year. The United States is working closely with affected governments, international organizations, civil society, coffee associations, and the private sector to combat coffee rust and mitigate its impacts in the following ways:
Through development diplomacy, the United States is raising the concern of coffee rust with senior government officials in affected countries and encouraging them to provide assistance to their producers.
Through the Unidad Regional de Asistencia Technica (RUTA), the United States hired a regional coordinator housed at the regional coffee association, PROMECAFÉ, in Guatemala to provide regional emergency coordination and disseminate best practices to combat rust.
The United States is providing field-based technical assistance to coffee farmers in El Salvador and Guatemala through the Food for Progress program to assist them to diversify and manage risk.
Through Feed the Future, the President’s food security initiative, the United States is working closely with the coffee industry and other stakeholders to provide training, resources and livelihoods support to affected communities and small scale farmers in Guatemala and Honduras.
The United States is working with national organizations and civil societies to support research on rust-resistant coffee varieties and address the shortage of appropriate coffee seedlings.
The United States is working through the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) in coordination with the International Financial Corporation (IFC) to provide a regional financing facility that would offer farmers medium and long term loans for plantation improvements and renovation.