- Category: Business
- Published on Monday, November 22 2010 13:15
- Written by Rod Hughes
- Hits: 617
This year's Costa Rica coffee crop will probably be even worse than expected, reports the coffee institute, ICAFE. This was a wetter than average year. After ICAFE had predicted (before the hurricane season hit its stride) a harvest of 1.66 million 60-kilo sacKs, the rains hit and estimated yield dropped to 1.61 million.
But then came a week of devastating rains in early November that caused flooding, landslides and cost the lives of more than 20 people. Now in the wake of disaster, ICAFE expects 1.56 million sacks, down fully 3% from the original prediction. (Each kilo equals 2.2 pounds)
Heavy rains and dark, cloudy, humid conditions caused fungus to form on the leaves, which fell, exposing to the elements the delicate berries that contain the beans. Rains were so heavy that some ripe berries were actually knocked off the small trees.
The Ministry of Agriculture said that in September and November storms affected 20% of coffee plantations, which, in some cases, saw as high as 50% of new plants damaged. Still, the yield even after damage is better than the dismal 1.49-million-sack harvest of last year's (2009-10) harvest.
Once the nation's number one export, coffee has fallen in economic impact behind electronic components, computers and high tech medical equipment in importance--except to world coffee wholesalers who value Costa Rica's product for its flavor.
Many here remember the dark days of 1980-81 when a sudden drop in world coffee prices touched off a severe economic crisis, the effects of which lingered for several years.