What Is El Niño Doing to Colombian Coffee Production?

The weather effects of El Niño are unpredictable. The last time it hit Colombia torrential rains damaged coffee crops. This time around there is drought in large parts of the Eje Cafetero. In some parts the drought is so bad that the coffee growers association (FNC) and the government are discussing ways to support coffee growers struck by El Niño as reported in vendingmarketwatch.com.

Concerned about the repercussions that El Niño is having on the income of Colombian coffee growers, the National Committee met today to discuss strategies to support coffee growers. Different support alternatives will now be evaluated in teams and presented during the next Committee meeting.

Evaluate, with the Department of Social Prosperity, the possibility of granting access to coffee growing families to socioeconomic stabilization programs that satisfy basic needs.

The Minister of Agriculture will evaluate with the Banco Agrario and Finagro issues related to credit in the coffee-growing sector. This will include favorable loans for renovation using the zoca procedure.

Explore the feasibility of launching a program to reactivate coffee production. The program will include crop and zoca renovations to recover coffee plantations affected by El Niño and will be funded by the National Coffee Fund and the Government of Colombia.

Many growers have been badly hurt and need help because of the drought. However not all growers are in trouble and, in fact, overall Colombian coffee production is up!

Colombian Coffee Production Rises Despite Drought

The Latin American Tribune reports that Colombian coffee production is up 7% for the fiscal year March 2015 to February 2016.

Colombia produced 1.09 million 60-kilo (132-pound) bags of coffee last month, a 7 percent increase over February 2015, the National Coffee Growers Federation, or FNC, reported.

Output from March 2015 through February 2016 totaled 14.2 million bags, up 16 percent from the previous 12-month period.

Despite the recent increase in production growers are concerned about pests such as the coffee borer beetle which tends to thrive in drought conditions.

A major threat to coffee crops in various locations throughout the world is the coffee borer beetle. Hypothenemus hampei, its scientific name, is a small beetle native to Angola in Southern Africa. Over the 20th century it spread to the Americas and to Hawaii. The coffee borer beetle is a threat to coffee crops wherever it is found. In the Latin American regions where the pest is found it goes by the names barrenador del café, gorgojo del café and broca del café. Infestation is spread via the inadvertent transport of infected beans. The primary way to continue to produce healthy organic coffee when there is an infestation is to hand sort the beans and dry promptly after picking. Various organic approaches can be used to deter and destroy the pest while maintaining an organic crop and organic coffee certification.

Problems for drought stricken coffee growing areas of Colombia will not stop with the dry weather but will continue with the threat of plant infestations such as coffee borer beetle on weakened coffee plants.

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