Coffee plantations need saving

Over the past 60 years, the coffee crop in Central America has been reduced by 40% because of a rust fungus that affects the crop. Scientists believe that further climate change could worsen the situation.

In recent years, abundant rainfall has created very favorable conditions for the development of the fungus in plantations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras. Affected coffee tree leaves receive less sunlight and lose their ability to photosynthesize. The researchers report that heavy rains will increase in intensity and frequency.

Rust fungi have been known to South American farmers since the 1970s. Mutating over the years, they have become highly immune, and the only solution scientists can now offer is to breed coffee varieties that are immune to the fungus. Defeating the problem within the next decade will be quite possible by cutting down diseased plants and replacing them with new ones.