Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fund helps fight coffee rust fungus

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A coalition that includes the U.S. Agency for International Development and Starbucks Corp. launched a $23-million fund to help Latin America farmers fight coffee rust.

The move is part of a growing international effort to combat coffee rust's devastating effect on Central and South America's coffee farms, where some of the world's best beans are grown. Concern is rising in the coffee industry about the potential impact coffee rust may have on the long-term supply of quality arabica, the mild-tasting bean used to brew specialty coffee.

In May, USAID and Texas A&M announced a $5-million partnership to fight the disease, which is caused by a parasitic fungus that is thriving in warming climates and changing rain patterns. The fungus coats leaves with an orange powder so they look rusty.

The new fund will apply $8 million from USAID and partners Keurig Green Mountain, Cooperative Coffees and Root Capital to train farmers in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru.

In addition, $15 million in investment capital from Root Capital, including $3 million provided by Starbucks, will go toward repairing fields ravaged by the disease and short-term loans to help keep farmers in business.

 

-- Seattle Times

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2014 B7

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