Unfortunately for the people — and coffee — of Guatemala, the year of superlative rains continues. More rain fell in the month of August than normally falls in an entire year. And this weekend, 30 mudslides were reported along a particularly tragic 30-mile stretch of the Pan-American highway that cuts through the coffeelands here.
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 $100 million in lost coffee revenues for Guatemalan farmers.
Last Thursday, the Pacaya Volcano erupted. Then the next day, Tropical Storm Agatha rolled in, destroying lives, homes, bridges, roads and — yes — coffee. The storm is a reminder that all the hard work of smallholder farmers to produce high-quality coffees for the discerning specialty market can be swept away overnight.