Target: Environment for Development
Goal: Stop the use of pesticides that are harming coffee trees in Guatemala and Central America
A tree fungus, known as the coffee rust fungus, is affecting coffee trees especially hard this growing season. The outbreak is occurring predominately in Guatemala and Central America, the world’s largest coffee growing nations. This ravenous fungus threatens to halve the 2013-14 coffee harvest requiring Guatemala’s coffee industry to declare a state of emergency. Ecologists and researchers are blaming the coffee rust fungus outbreak on the use pesticides and fungicides. By applying the sprays to coffee crops, an important organism that would normally attack the coffee rust is decimated in the process. Urge Environment for Development in Central America to advocate against the use of pesticides that are threatening to destroy coffee trees in Central America..
Coffee rust, scientifically known as Hemileia vastatrix, dates all the way back to the 1860s, originating from Sri Lanka. The fungus occurs seasonally, predominantly in Central America, in the form of a bright orange residue on the edges of coffee leaves. As the fungus enters the leaf via pores, it consumes tissue inside of the leaf until it dies and falls off the branch. If enough leaves die, the plant is compromised and cannot produce adequate amounts of coffee berries.
Researchers were first suggesting that the intensity of this year’s fungus was due to climate change. Dr. Vandermeer, an ecologist and coffee researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is relating the root cause to the use of pesticides and fungicides stating that the sprays are also wiping out the white halo fungus. This fungus is actually an important organism that aids in fighting off harmful fungi, such as coffee rust.
Moreover, scientists are agreeing on Mother Nature’s helpful way of keeping the coffee rust fungus at bay by means of a rain storm to cleanse the air of any lingering spores, either in the air or on the leaves themselves. However, studies have observed that the fungus thrives in moist, humid conditions so any prolonged rainfall patterns will only make the outbreak worse. Dr. Vandermeer suggests that long-term solutions should be applied to reduce the use of pesticides in order for natural controls to reinstate themselves. Insist that members of Environment for Development in Central America advocate for halting the use of harmful pesticides that are destroying coffee crops.
Dear Members of Environment for Development, Central America,
The coffee rust fungus that occurs seasonally is attacking coffee crops especially hard this growing season in Guatemala and Central America. Because the fungus is destroying trees at such a rapid pace, Guatemala’s coffee industry is declaring a state of emergency. Estimates show that if the fungus continues killing trees at this rate, it will threaten to cut this year’s harvest in half.
Trying to find the cause of the fungus, some researchers relate the destruction to climate change while others are strictly adamant that the root of the cause is due to the use of pesticides. The sprays are knocking out the white halo fungus which is actually beneficial in that it attacks the coffee rust fungus, able to stave off the disease. Therefore, I urge you to take action in stopping the use of harmful fungicides and pesticides in order to stimulate natural controls back into the trees.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: asiahealthcareblog.com