Peru Seeks to Renew Coffee Crops After Roya Outbreak

The Ministry of Agriculture has initiated a plan to improve coffee plantations this year after they were hit hard by a plant-eating rust.

In its 2014 Coffee Plan, the ministry is to prioritize the use of coffee seeds that are more resistant to the  disease, known as roya in Latin America. Some of the seeds may be from national stocks, while others may need to be imported, according to state news agency Andina.

“We’ve been seeing the effects of the roya. Plantations have died, they don’t produce any more. And we are going to continue to see the consequences from the impact of roya in 2014 and next year,” said Jose Muro, the ministry’s director general of agricultural competitiveness.

Peruvian coffee production declined sharply in 2013 as a result of the roya, which has destroyed crops. The Agriculture Ministry said last year that output would have declined about 30% from the previous year.  Coffee growers in the montane forest area of Junin led protest marches last year to demand help from the government to combat the roya.

According to Andina, about 95 percent of Peruvian coffee crops are susceptible to the roya disease due to poor agricultural management, including the use of fertilizer, as well as climate change.

Other coffee-producing countries were also hard hit by the roya disease in 2013. States of emergency for coffee growers were declared in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Mexico.

The International Organization of Coffee said last year that the roya outbreak was the worst it had seen on record.

Coffee production in Peru has been boosted in recent years to substitute illegal coca farms, and its high quality is prized by gourmet markets.

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