Nicaragua kicks off program to tackle roya coffee fungus

MANAGUA, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Nicaragua launched on Monday a program to train technicians fight a tree-killing fungus that has already hurt about a third of the country’s coffee plantations and is spreading fast across Central America.
Agriculture minister Ariel Bucardo said the goal is to have 15,000 people, between experts and growers, ready to attack the aggressive roya outbreak which threatens to further expand in Nicaragua’s 126,132 hectares of coffee-growing fields.
Aggressive outbreaks of the fungus have hit Central America’s major coffee-producing nations and Mexico, which are home to more than a fifth of the world’s arabica coffee production.
Bucardo, who did not detail a time frame or how the program will be funded, said Nicaragua has not planned yet to declare a national emergency.
In El Salvador, as much as half of the country’s coffee plants have been infected by roya, while in Guatemala, 40 percent of its coffee plantations have been hit. In Honduras, the region’s top coffee producer, officials expect the outbreak to cut exports by 5 percent and at least a tenth of the planted crop has been blighted.

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