According to the director of the National Federation of Coffee Growers (FEDECAFE), Colombia’s coffee harvest is expected to exceed previous goals and expectations for 2013, after showing a 36% increase in August as compared to the same month in 2012.
The figures will be encouraging to farmers and distributors alike, as Colombia continues to recover from a production crisis that devastated the Colombian coffee market last year.
If early indications hold true, 2013 could mean a strong comeback for Colombia’s coffee industry. Farmers recently reported a harvest of almost 102 million pounds of coffee bean in the month of August alone. FEDECAFE director Luis Genaro Muñoz cited improved weather conditions and increased mechanization to a trend that has seen a 38% jump in overall production over the first eight months of 2013. Farmers have collected over 886 million pounds of coffee since January, as compared to 648 million over the same period in 2012.
Similarly, the yearly production statistics, dating back to September of last year, indicate a 26% increase in overall production when compared to September 2011-August 2012.
Even with a major coffee sector strike earlier this year and ongoing protests from coffee workers in departments such as Risaralda and Huila, industry representatives are expecting 2013’s harvest to surpass the goal of 1.32 billion pounds set at the beginning the year, especially as the bulk of much of the coffee-producing region’s harvest is only just beginning to come in.
Combined with a devastating fungal outbreak in Central America, the robust Colombian harvest has lead to a 34% growth in international exports over the first eight months of 2013. Despite concerns over widespread road blockages due to continuing agricultural protests, August’s exports reached nearly 160% of their 2012 levels.
The growth in international coffee trade could help compensate for the significant hits taken by the national economy because of Colombia’s ongoing national labor strikes. And industry leaders say that the largely successful implementation of a new direct subsidy program for coffee farmers earlier this summer should bring some much-needed relief from the crisis facing Colombia’s agro-producing sector.
The recent statistics come as small-scale coffee farmers in various parts of the country continue to call for national agriculture reform to address what they say are exorbitant production costs and crippling free trade economic policies.