Next COVID Casualty Could be Coffee

Dan Coronavirus, General, Specialty Crops


COVID-19 shockwaves could create a round of trouble for the coffee industry, according to Purdue University.

Starting in the 2011-12 growing season, a powdery orange fungus called coffee leaf rust spread throughout Latin America and Central America, damaging crops on 70 percent of farms and causing more than $3.2 billion in damage. Coffee crop management programs helped growers mitigate the fungus.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic caused reduced management, and closed borders, limiting or eliminating movement of migrant workers essential for coffee harvests in Latin America and Central America. Without crops being harvested, profits fall further, and the feedback loop intensifies. Without efforts to eradicate coffee leaf rust, global coffee supplies could dwindle, making a cup of coffee more costly.


Researchers suggest a number of measures that could help with rust issues, including sourcing coffee from more areas, including those not as severely impacted by the fungus and diversifying farms and livelihoods of coffee farmers.

(From the National Association of Farm Broadcasters)