Colombia’s coffee sector is headed for dismal production levels in 2012, according to both the Ministry of Agriculture and the national coffee growers federation.
The government and farmers have been battling rainy weather, fungus and pests that have devastated crops and led to a 36-year low harvest of 7.8 million bags in 2011.
“The government has been an invaluable help in the task… but this year is one of the worst of all,” said the head of the federation, Mario Gomez Estrada, reported local media.
A government initiative to improve farming practices, including the use of fertiliziers and chemicals to protect crops, has yet to significantly boost production.
“On average we are not producing more than 8 million [bags] annually, or are working at half-speed, and it looks like we’ll have another year of very mediocre production,” said Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo.
Restrepo met with coffee farmers in Colombia’s coffee triangle over the weekend to discuss the issue.
The Caldas department’s mitaca, or secondary harvest, which accounts for 30% of the yearly yield, dipped 70% this spring, the leader of the local coffee farmers organization said.
The coffee grower’s federation has promised $85 million in aid to coffee growers over five years, of which Nestle Nespresso S.A. will donate $50 million towards building sustainable production practices.