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Mexicos Production Recovering from Coffee Leaf Rust

23.06.2023 08:55 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) According to the report of the USDA Coffee: World Markets and Trade (June 2022), in 2012, coffee leaf rust began to spread in Mexico and Central America.

Although present in the region since the 1980s, increased rainfall combined with cloudy weather and cooler temperatures after the 2012/13harvest to create an ideal environment for its spread. The disease attacks the underside of the leaf, causing it to yellow and drop prematurely, reducing photosynthetic capacity and yield. Severe infection can defoliate branches and cause tree mortality.

Once the resurgence of the disease was found in Chiapas Mexico, the Secretariat of Agriculture (SAGARPA) instructed the National Service of Health, Food Safety, and Food Quality (SENASICA) and the Mexican Coffee Association (AMECAFE) to establish strategies to help prevent the spread of coffee leaf rust. An Emergency Program was established to address the problem which included a sampling campaign to determine impacted areas, a finance program to provide easier access to costly fungicides, and training and communication events to inform growers.

The main Mexico coffee producing states are Chiapas (40percent) and Veracruz (25percent). Following extensive testing at the onset of the outbreak, SAGARPA confirmed that the disease was present in 30percent of the area planted in Chiapas and 10percent in Veracruz. According to SENASICAs State Plant Health officials, the lack of proper management in pruning and tree renewal in Chiapas increased

propagation of the fungus because most the regions coffee trees are shade-grown underneath a canopy of taller trees by farmers applying minimal inputs. By the 2013/14harvest, coffee leaf rust continued to spread to over 50percent of Mexicos coffee area despite mitigation efforts, causing output to drop 700,000bags to 4.0million. As the crisis unfolded, the government worked with several non-governmental organizations to implement programs including the establishment of nurseries to supply producers with disease-resistant plants, funds to assist growers with the cost of fungicides, and additional technical staff to provide support and training to growers. By

the 2017/18harvest, over 15percent of area harvested in Chiapas and 35percent in Veracruz was replanted with rust resistant varieties. Production bottomed out at 2.3million bags in 2015/16due in large part to renovated trees not yielding output, a process which typically takes 4to 5years.

Production has since rebounded and is forecast to total 4.1million bags in 2023/24but remains 12percent below pre-rust levels. Producers report having greater familiarity with management and prevention, but also growing conditions have been favorable to limit the spread of the disease.

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