Coffee farmers in Central America are heading for a bitter year. The coffee rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, continues to spread through the region, after irregular rains last year created perfect humid conditions for the disease, reported Bloomberg. The disease has withered the leaves of many coffee bushes, leaving some of them as only naked sticks.
The coffee harvest could drop by as much as 25 percent, Jose Angel Buitrago, the president of the Central American Organization of Coffee Exporters, told Bloomberg. But that the drop in production may provide a small boost to falling coffee prices.
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The price of coffee decides the prosperity of many small farmers in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Increased demand, especially in China, had raised prices, which encouraged more farmers to plant an increased area of coffee. Now, as those bushes are coming to maturity, the larger supply of coffee is causing the prices to drop along with incomes. Betting on coffee also left those farmers vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the coffee rust fungus.