Hemileia vastatrix, or Coffee Leaf Rust (Roya in Spanish), is a leaf fungus that causes significant damage to coffee plants and therefore the supply and quality of crop for several harvest cycles after infestation. Today, it is creating a state of emergency in many parts of Central America. Most experts conclude that a warmer-than -normal climate has created conditions that are more favorable for Roya’s rapid spread, even to high altitude regions that have been traditionally immune from the disease. Heavy rainfall has allowed the disease to multiply and winds have carried spores to new areas, where they rapidly attack coffee plant leaves. Roya reduces physiological activity and threatens the plant’s ability to produce coffee cherries. In many cases, Roya kills the coffee tree entirely.
The Roya Recovery Project was envisioned after a series of conversations and site visits with our coffee producer groups that have begun to experience the effects of Roya. In January 2013, as the Sustainable Harvest team began a series of diagnostic surveys throughout Central America, we began to see, first hand, the rapid impact of Roya.
Sustainable Harvest, in collaboration with leaders across the specialty coffee industry, intends to help farmers mitigate the short and long-term affects of the Roya infestation through a program called the Roya Recovery Project. In partnership with organizations such as the SCAA, ANACAFE, CENICAFE, IHCAFE, the World Coffee Research Institute, Green Mountain Coffee, Dillanos, Cafe Moto, and Cafe Mystique, we aim to provide immediate training tools to bring best practices instruction to the rural coffee sector where our producer partners operate.
This project seeks funding to film and produce an information-rich video on Roya mitigation strategies focused on organic methodologies and create an online resource that provides an ongoing opportunity for information share and training. The video-based toolkit will be made available free to the co-op agronomists with technical assistance services within the Sustainable Harvest supply chain.
The toolkit will include:
• DVD and training manual
• Web-based producer forums where feedback from grower and best practices from farmers can be shared online through their own videos, photos, observations and learnings.
• Training workshops included in Let’s Talk Coffee events, where the community of Relationship Coffee Model stakeholders includes scientists, NGOs, roasters, and finance institutions, providing easy access to organizations that can help producers make better decisions around crop renovation and outside funds for further direct technical assistance.
The Roya Recovery Project funds will be directed to a non profit “Roya Recovery Project” of the fiscal sponsor Charitable Partnership Fund (CPF), a 501(c)(3) started in 1999 dedicated to increasing responsible philanthropic activity in economic development, society, education, and the environment. 100% of donations will support the Roya Recovery Project to be directed by Sustainable Harvest and a independent group of coffee industry advisors* Additional oversight will be provided by the independent staff or board members of CPF.
*Special Advisory Group for Roya Recovery Project (as of March 11, 2013)
Sevan Istanboulian/Cafe Mystique,
Torrey Lee/Cafe Moto,
Rick Peyser/GMCR Foundation,
Max Quirin/ANACAFE Guatemala
Luis Samper/FNC Colombia
Tim Shilling/World Coffee Research
Skip Finley/Dalla Corte,