Guatemala Declares Coffee Emergency

Coffee rust fungus damages plants

On Friday Guatemala declared a national emergency over the state of its coffee crops. It was the third country in South America to do so.

A fungus called coffee rust has been spreading throughout the region, and Guatemala's president, Otto Molina Perez, says it has affected 70 percent of that country's crops.

"If we don't take the needed measures, in 2013-2014 our production could drop by 40 percent," he said, according to ABC News. Perez said the country would be spending more than $14 million to cover the cost of pesticides and training for coffee farmers in an attempt to take control of the epidemic.

The coffee rust fungus has been around for decades, but it hasn't posed this degree of a problem before. Experts have said that a temperature increase due to climate change has encouraged the growth of coffee rust, which attacks the leaves of the plants, stopping them from producing coffee beans and eventually killing them.

Honduras and Costa Rica declared national states of emergency in January over the state of their coffee plants. Mexico thus far says it has coffee rust in the country, but the fungus has not yet damaged any plants.

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