Thursday, September 5, 2013

A small diversion from our Sustainability Series . . . . but as you know, we keep a weather eye on coffee too

Coffee blog proclaims “Roya [coffee disease] Knows No Boundaries,”  but perhaps its passport to Aceh has not been stamped yet . . .

If the Arabica coffee industry is being decimated by this disease in Colombia and Mexico, does isolated Aceh have a chance to step up to the plate? Or, even better, will the world start paying closer attention to good quality ROBUSTA coffee, which has 400 Aceh Jaya farmers ready to leap up and re-form their association if they got any encouragement??

and here’s the June 2013 USA today article:
which does not mention Indonesia as on the list of infected countries . . . yet
por Fernanda López
Roya or coffee leaf rust is a fungus that is causing turmoil wherever it spreads. The effects of the outbreak are just beginning: coffee production loss in Central America will most likely increase while roya keeps spreading to countries as diverse as Mexico and Peru. In the former, about 60,000 hectares were affected mostly in Chiapas, Mexico’s main coffee-producing state. In the latter, social unrest led to arrests with about 25% of the coffee production expected to be lost.
Across countries, smallholder farmers are being hit the hardest: lower production levels translate into lower income levels, reduced credit availability and increased risk of indebtedness. In contrast, roya control measures (from multiple rounds of fumigation to renovation of coffee trees) often represent additional costs that, added together, can be staggering. As an example, the Colombian Government and the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) invested more than US$1.4 billion in resilience efforts that included replanting /stumping of more than two billion trees or 54% of the country's plantations in order to deal with a 2008 roya outbreak.
Roya or coffee-leaf rust is a fungus that restricts the source of nutrition for the coffee cherries, producing loss of foliage and reducing the amount and quality of the harvested beans. The fungus manifests as yellow spots on the tree’s leaves which turn to an orange “dust”.
As this report from the Specialty Coffee Association of America details, roya is not a new disease: it was officially detected in 1870 but it was most likely around before that. This time around though, Central America has been severely affected by a very aggressive outbreak that merited the organization of the First International Coffee Rust Summit where it was highlighted that more research is needed to determine the causes behind such a severe outbreak. Most likely, a combination of factors can probably explain the fast spread of the plague: among them, climate changes (such as smaller and more frequent rainfall), high density monoculture of roya-susceptible coffee varieties and poor farming practices.
According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the losses for the 2012-2013 crop year are estimated at US$ 499.4 Million with about 50% of the total coffee growing area affected. A per-country incidence rate is led by El Salvador (74% of its crop affected) followed by Guatemala (70%), Costa Rica (64%), Nicaragua (37%) and Honduras (25%) – a break-down of information based on the ICO report can be found below:

Funding is being provided through a variety of means and by a wide range of stakeholders: from grants to toolkits on how to address roya. National governments started allocating emergency funding by declaring national disasters earlier this year. Additionally, a group of organizations working in Central America (among them IDB, FAO, ECLAC and WFP) have also issued an action plan that is currently being implemented with a 2013 budget of US$1.37 Million.
Within this reference framework, the MIF alongside other partners is working on the design of initiatives that encompass a climate dimension (resilience, adaptation and climate smart technologies); access to market (identification of market niches, engagement of lead firms); financing (long-term renovation loans, short-term trade credit, financial literacy and management) and capacity at origin (capacity to implement internal credit systems, certification compliance, access to agronomic extension services).
The areas of intervention are ambitious but the real innovative element is the fact that we are working on developing multi-stakeholder initiatives that can be implemented during 2013-2014. Can this type of initiatives be successfully launched in the short term? How to make sure that the expertise and technical capacity will be available where it is needed the most? We will be providing some answers (and more questions) in upcoming blog posts.
Since we’ve been basically snubbed by the international coffee market for our insistence (as CQI believes too) that high quality Robusta is the economic wave of the future, we will sit back and say no more . . . until USAID and World Bank  come knocking once again at Aceh’s door for some help with the coffee crisis.


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