Guatemala President Otto Molina Perez has declared a national emergency due to the leaf rust outbreak that has been spreading throughout Central America. He has authorized allocating approximately $14 million (USD) for pesticides and to help train farmers to prevent further spreading of the fungus.
Costa Rica and Honduras have also declared states of emergency due to leaf rust, which attacks and kills coffee plants, as leaves show brown and orange spots. The outbreak is being regarded as the worst in some 40 years, and it is likely the worst ever in Central America. Plantations in Mexico and El Salvador have also reported signs of the fungus.
In his declaration, Perez said that leaf rust has already destroyed as much as 70 percent of Guatemala’s coffee crop, affecting tens of thousands of farmers. Nearly two thirds of the 333 municipalities in Guatemala produce coffee. According to a Huffington Post report, coffee producers from Guatemala, Hondouras, Costa Rica and El Salvador plan to meet later this month in Honduras to collectively discuss strategies to curb the outbreak.