The National Coffee Association here in Guatemala today said that the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano and Tropical Storm Agatha — two natural disasters that hit Guatemala last week — together will reduce coffee exports in 2010-2011 by 121.9 million pounds. By my calculations, that is more than $1oo million in lost coffee revenues for Guatemalan farmers.
Anacafé’s initial assessment suggested that while the damage done by falling volcanic rocks, sand and ash was confined to the coffee communities in the immediate vicinity of the Pacaya Volcano, Tropical Storm Agatha’s impact was much broader. The storm — which dropped as much rain on Guatemala as Hurricane Stan did in 2005, but in half the time — led to flooding that has damaged coffee crops and infrastructure. The storm has also washed out bridges and led to landslides that have blocked major roads, leaving many coffee-growing communities isolated.
My CRS colleagues here in Guatemala head to the field tomorrow for assessments that will give us a better sense of what the impact has been on organizations participating in CAFE Livelihoods and partners in our other projects here.