12 Aug 2013 16:26 EDT DJ
By Ryan Dube
LIMA, Peru–Peru’s coffee output likely will fall at least 25% this year because of an outbreak of the roya disease, Agriculture Minister Milton Von Hesse said Monday.
The outbreak of roya, a plant-eating fungus that has affected crops in other Latin American countries, has caused concern among coffee growers that have asked the government for assistance. Coffee growers have been critical of the government, saying its reaction has been disorganized.
The government has declared a state of emergency in 11 coffee-growing regions, including Cusco, Junin and San Martin. The government has said it “will carry out the immediate and necessary actions to control the spread of [the roya disease].”
On Monday, Mr. Von Hesse said in a meeting with Peru’s foreign press association that the government is working with farmers to replace their crops, but that output will fall 25% to 30%. This is slightly higher than previous estimates, Mr. Von Hesse said.
He said the government has sent experts into the fields to determine how much can be saved and how to make the crops more resistant without losing their quality.
“This is an opportunity to promote changes in the plantations,” he said.
Earlier this year, the National Coffee Chamber said it expects Peru will produce 6.0 million quintals, or 46-kilo bags, of coffee this year. It originally projected output of 7.5 million quintals.
The roya disease has spread to Peru and other countries as a result of climate changes and the poor use of fertilizer.
Peru is one of the world’s top 10 producers of coffee.
Mr. Von Hesse also said it is too early to know the impact of the La Nina weather system on Peru’s crops. Peru’s meteorological service confirmed last week the presence of La Nina, the cooling of surface waters off the coast of Peru, which can cause heavy rains and flooding.