Combating The Coffee “Rust” In Guatemala

Jim and Farmers standing among pruned shade trees

Jim and Farmers standing among pruned shade trees

A few months ago, we posted about Jim’s trip to Guatemala in June, focusing the content on the school and library we support there. Of course, Jim also spent time visiting the growers who supply our wonderful Guatemalan Atitlan coffee; a small group of about 50 families that take great pride in the quality of their coffee. The knowledge they have of organic practices and what works best in their micro-climate, as well as the care they give to their trees and land, is evident in the lush environment they’ve helped create.

It was an interesting time to visit since all of Central America had been ravished by coffee “rust”. This fungus covers the leaves of trees preventing light and photosynthesis, and in turn causes the trees to suffer and produce lower yields. Larger farms have been combating this by spraying trees with chemicals, but obviously for organic farmers, this is a no-no. Instead, our friends in Guatemala have been heavily pruning the shade canopy over the trees. This has resulted in what already looks like a good crop for them!