Catholic News Service reports on a growing problem that is affecting the coffee industry: coffee rust. It’s a fungus that is wiping out coffee plants in Central America, harming the coffee industry and causing a loss of jobs, which may be one of the factors — along with violence — pushing many Central Americas to the United States.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been working with coffee farmers to mitigate the negative affects of coffee rust and the loss of income for families. Catholic News Service spoke with CRS’ Juan Sheenan about the situation:
JUJUTLA, El Salvador (CNS) — Oralia Lopez had a brother leave for the United States in 2013. He had given up on eking out a living in El Salvador’s coffee country, where a fungus known as coffee rust wiped out crops and caused hardship and hunger. He arrived in the Washington, D.C., area, home to many Salvadoran migrants, and started sending home remittances.
His success encouraged two brothers to try their luck, Lopez said, but they were detained on the Mexico-U.S. border and deported.
“Agriculture is not providing anything here to survive on,” Lopez said. Such is the desperation in this corner of El Salvador and other parts of Central America, where coffee crops can provide modest livelihoods. The coffee crisis in El Salvador has sent some searching for work in larger cities, while those staying put increasingly grow subsistence crops such as corn and beans, which stave off hunger, but can be bad for the environment.
From NPR: Rust Devastates Guatemala’s Prime Coffee Crop and Its Farmers
CRS World Report: Coffee Rust in Central America
‘Coffee Fungus Gives Industry Jitters’; CRS Coffee Expert Quoted