Specialists warn against excessive fungicide use in fight against coffee rust

Coffee Rust

How coffee rust gets its name – this is a coffee leaf infected with the fungus. (ICR Archive)

May 28th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Over the past couple of years, coffee production in Central America has been hit by a deadly wave of coffee leaf rust (“roya” in Spanish), a type of fungus that has hurt the production of this valued commodity in the region.  Costa Rica has lost at least $46 million as a result.

 

Now, experts from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) are warning farmers against the excessive use of fungicides to battle the epidemic, which they say can damage the environment as well as human and animal health.

 

As a result, a forum will be held by UCR agronomists on Friday, May 30th, on the current state of chemical use in the fight against coffee rust, aimed at educating producers about the proper use of fungicides and the dangers of excessive use.

 

The free activity will take place at the College of Agricultural Engineering in Moravia, aimed at educating producers on when and how to properly apply fungicides.

 

María del Milagro Montero Granados, president of the Association for Professionals in Plant Disease (APEP), said that agrochemical companies have launched marketing campaigns during the coffee rust outbreak, marketing supposedly “new” products which are in fact “based on the same molecules that have been in use for 20 years, which have harmful side effects on plant physiology,” according to Granados.

 

Some 50,000 families depend upon coffee production for their livelihoods in Costa Rica, 90% of which are small and medium producers.

 

Some 10,000 hectares of coffee have been affected by the epidemic in Costa Rica, resulting in a loss of 232,916 bushels during the 2012-2013 period.

 

Costa Rican authorities declared a national emergency over the epidemic in early 2013.

 

Read more about Costa Rica’s coffee rust problem.

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    • expatin paradise

      Costa Rica already outranks all other countries in the world in pesticide, using three times the amount used by the #2 country (Colombia), and exceeding the use of #2 through #9. What we don’t need is agrochemical companies pushing growers to use even more pesticides. Instead, the government should send out agents to educate growers on the judicial use of these chemicals.

      We know that run-off from agricultural operations have already contaminated our rivers and affected wildlife. There is no telling what the health effects have been on the population, but Costa Rica has an unusually high incidence of several diseases. Growers seem to use a “more is better” philosophy regarding these chemicals, which they get at bargain prices due to a special import tax exemption.

      I do not see that we have a ministry of Agriculture, which might be a good start to tackling this problem and would seem warranted because of the place of agriculture in the national economy. Doing away with the tax exemption on agrochemicals would be another. The insanity of the overuse of these harmful chemicals in this country that markets its “greenness” must stop.