Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture, Juan Camilo Restrepo warned of a possible coffee sector crisis, reported local media Friday.
In the past four years, production has fallen by four million 130lb bags a year. Current output is around 8 million bags while the country typically produces about 12 million annually. Restrepo recently called 2012 “one of the worst years” for Colombian coffee production.
“This means we lost 16 million bags and everything that comes with that in terms of lost income, reduced agricultural production, losses in the welfare of the coffee sector, and the loss of foreign markets,” said Restrepo.
The minister noted that the Colombian government has invested $165.3 million to support and sustain the coffee sector during the production downturn.
Colombia’s coffee grower’s federation, Fedecafe, 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.
Coffee production is down due to strong rains in coffee-producing areas that began in 2009, damaging crops and causing coffee rust. Coffee rust is the most economically detrimental coffee disease in the world and is known to affect Arabica beans especially — of which Colombia is the second-largest producer in the world.
Fedecafe president Luis Genaro Muñoz said earlier this month that if the country cultivates an excess of humidity-resistant coffee, then 11 million bags of coffee could be produced per year.
Restrepo seemed to agree, claiming renovation to the production process was the solution to the crisis. “We have to renovate, refresh and renovate with rust-resistant varieties. Only recuperating the youth of the Colombian coffee fields and recuperating them with rust-resistant varieties will allow us to get out of this coffee crisis.”