Bill to help coffee growers gets its first approval

University of Michigan archived photo Photo shows rust on a coffee leaf.

Lawmakers unanimously approved on first reading Monday the creation of a $40 million trust to help coffee growers fighting a disease. The measure is likely to receive the second and final approval this week.

The bill authorizes the Ministerio de Hacienda to issue bonds to cover the costs of the trusts, but other funds and donations also are sought. The money is to be directed to small coffee producers. A state bank will administer the funds, according to the bill.

The disease is the roya de cafe, a fungus that has swept through plantations in Central America and Mexico. The disease is expected to drastically reduce the coffee yield.

The Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería estimated that at least 60,000 hectares (about 148,260 acres) of coffee have the problem and that the cantons most affected are Pérez Zeledón and Coto Brus. Some 57,000 producers are expected to be helped.

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