Agricultural engineers says coffee rust campaign lacking

Agricultural engineers say the government has dropped the ball in fighting a coffee disease and production may be cut by half this year.

The statement from Eugenio Porras Vargas, president of the Colegio de Ingenieros Agrnomos, said the government has not launched an adequate campaign against what he called an old enemy.

The disease is roya de cafe, which is translated in English to “coffee rust.” It is a fungus that forms yellow-orange dusty patches on the underside of the leaves. This causes the coffee plant to lose its leaves, eventually killing the whole plant.

Porras said that the country knew about the fungus before 1970. He wondered in a release how with all the expertise, fungicides and monitoring programs coffee growers are now facing a new crisis. Coffee is one of the country’s biggest cash crops.

Porras cited the world depression in 1929, the collapse of coffee prices in 1989 along with the current situation.

His organization considered a government decree issued in December as less than what is needed. He called the potential reduction in the harvest this year alarming.

The rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, is spread by the wind and rain.

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