CHINCHINA, COLOMBIA–(Marketwire) – The Colombian Government and the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) announced plans today to extend the Farmer’s Income Support (AIC) program until July, a measure necessary to sustain the nation’s coffee plantation conversion process to adapt to new climate conditions.
For several years the Colombian Government has been committed to helping coffee growers manage the effects of climate change, which has affected the production and prices of coffee globally. The decision by the Government and the FNC comes to alleviate concerns of coffee growers of lower International Prices and local currency Exchange Rate appreciation.
The coffee plantation conversion process for new trees resistant to the coffee leaf rust fungus began five years ago. More than $1.4 billion dollars have been invested to make plantations more resilient to this devastating fungus that is affecting coffee growers in other countries. More than two billion trees or 54% of the country’s plantations have been changed or stumped since 2008.
Recently, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras declared a state of phytosanitary emergency due to the growing incidence of coffee rust attacks on their plantations. Officials have already issued concerns about affected volumes of their crops for the 2013-2014 seasons. According to the president of the National Union of Farmers and Ranchers of El Salvador, Alvaro Fiallos, more than 41,000 hectares of coffee have been lost because of the fungus and the Coffee Institute (Icafe) estimates that coffee rust will be responsible for a 10% drop in Costa Rica’s coffee harvest.
Meanwhile, Colombia maintains its strategic policy aimed to sustain the pace of changing its coffee trees to crop varieties resistant to the rust fungus. “We welcome the decision of President Santos and appreciate the effort that is being made both in terms of change in our plantations to alleviate the current problem of lower incomes that occurs as a result of the appreciation of the Colombian peso,” said Luis Gerardo Muñoz Ortega, CEO of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation. “With this support we can continue the coffee tree renovation process to which we are committed to,” he added.
The Farmer’s Income Support program has cost $52 million dollars in aid since it was implemented in October. That number could reach to an additional $80 million by July. Aside from monetary aid to farmers, the program also supports coffee producers by providing more access to fertilizers. The support program is meticulously controlled by the FNC intelligent ID card system. Each farmer has access to a debit card where funds are transferred depending on the volume of coffee sold.
Colombia produced 7.8 million bags of 60 kilos (132 pounds) of green coffee in 2012. This year’s Colombian harvest is expected to exceed 10 million. The Government and the FNC have assured that coffee yields in Colombia will begin to recover as the new plantations move into the production phase.
About the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC)
The FNC is a non-profit organization founded in 1927 that represents over 500,000 coffee growing families. Considered one of the largest rural organizations in the world, its mission is to improve the well being and the quality of life of Colombian coffee producers. Under its Sustainability that Matters® programs, the FNC has developed an integral sustainability policy focused on coffee growers that includes productive, social and environmental initiatives. It also develops scientific research, technology transfer and social and industrial processes, supporting Colombian coffee production and commercialization.