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52. Disasters cause more than $100 million in coffee losses in Guatemala

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.


  • Mike White says:

    This is heartbreaking news.

    • Mike:

      Thanks for the note and the sentiment.

      Our own coffee footprint here is limited — we are supporting farmer organizations in San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Chimaltenango (officially in the “Traditional Atitlán” region but probably closer as the crow flies to Acatenango), Sololá and Chiquimula — so we won’t get as good sense of what the impact has been in Huehue, Cobán, etc. as others. So far, Anacafé hasn’t published any kind of regionalized breakdown of the impact, but we will translate and post the key points here as the info comes available, and keep needling folks here in Guate for more details. We will keep providing updates here as we learn more.

      The loss of the coffee is awfully sad and our partners will really be feeling it next harvest. Meantime, they are dealing with higher-order losses of lives and homes in their communities.

      Heartbreaking, indeed.


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