A massive eruption of the active volcano Volcán de Fuego in the Guatemalan coffeelands southwest of Antigua and Guatemala City has resulted in a reported 69 deaths and dozens more injuries.
Coffee farms and mills throughout the affected region have been blanketed in ash and soot, as recovery efforts since Sunday’s eruption have been hampered by impassable roads.
According to Guatemala’s federal disaster relief organization, Conred, the eruption caused the evacuation of some 3,200 people, while more than 2,600 are still in temporary shelter.
The country’s national coffee association, Anacafé, and the rural coffee-focused nonprofit Funcafé are supporting Conred’s relief efforts by establishing collection centers for dry goods, food, clothing and medical supplies at its regional offices and at the Anacafé headquarters. For more on the efforts, see an Anacafé press release in English or in Spanish.
Anacafé reports that coffee farming communities and municipalities throughout the Departments of Sacatepéquez and Chimaltenango have been most heavily affected by volcanic ash and debris. The group estimates that between 3,440 to 4,055 Guatemalan manzanas (approximately 2,400 to 2,861 hectares) of coffee-planted lands have been covered in ash.
#TragediaVolcán | Varias plantaciones de café en el sector de Acatenango, fueron impactadas por la erupción del volcán de Fuego, señala Gerardo de León de @fedecocagua. El recuento continúa por los técnicos. @prensa_libre @Economia_pl pic.twitter.com/pWEBQOB34b
— Urías Gamarro (@ugamarro_pl) June 4, 2018
While rains have washed some of the debris off the plants, the group is urging farmers who have not been evacuated or who have returned to their farms to shake away any remaining debris and irrigate seed beds.
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.