Coffee families begin to get government help

The first 12 families suffered because of a disease of coffee plants received the checks from a trust designed to help such farmers Monday.

President Laura Chinchilla was in San Vito de Coto Brus to make the presentations.

Small producers if they meet certain requirements can get 100,000 colons, a bit less than $200 each month for three months. Some 5 billion colons, about $9 million, has been set aside for these small producers. The fungus roya de cafe, has been invading Costa Rican coffee plantations for at least two years.

An additional 20 billion colons has been designated for replanting coffee acreage and taking other steps to minimize the effects of the disease.

The government estimates that the financial aid can reach about 16,600 coffee farmers.

The Instituto de Café de Costa Rica estimated that about 65 percent of the coffee plantations have been affected.

The loss in coffee has been estimated to be about $16 million, the institute said.

In addition to the money from the trust, coffee farmers who are having financial problems can also seek aid from the usual anti-poverty agencies. Each recipient of funds is being evaluated by the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería, the coffee institute and  Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social, the nation’s principal anti-poverty agency.

In order to qualify, the coffee farmer has to have produced a moderate amount of beans in the last two harvests.

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