More than a million people have been affected by devastating tropical storms in Central America and Mexico in recent weeks. Over twelve days of torrential rain have caused landslides and serious floods, with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua hit particularly hard. Needless to say many coffee producers have been affected – damage caused by the rains will hit both the coming crop and, most probably, the 2012/13 crop also. Our thoughts go out to all those affected. Thank you also to the Pacas family in El Salvador for sending us an update on the situation there…
Over 100 have died so far, tens of thousands have been forced from their homes and many roads and bridges have been badly damaged or destroyed. The humanitarian situation in worst hit areas is dire, and infrastructure repairs will cost a huge amount of both money and time. The UN World Food Program (WFP) is now distributing emergency food rations to over 70,000 people in the four countries most severely affected, but many remain isolated from help due to blocked roads.
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes recently appealed to the international community for aid -“El Salvador is going through one of the most dramatic disasters in its history.” According to the Salvadoran authorities almost 60 inches (152 centimeters) of rain accumulated over 10 days – this is higher than the cumulative record of Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the region in 1998, at 34 inches (86 centimeters) of rain.
Thanks to Maja Wallengren from Coffee Network for an update and photos from the region. Maja also sent us this link– showing a massive crater that has opened in El Salvador as a result of the rains, with what look like coffee trees around the rim.
News from the Pacas family
We have received the following update from the Pacas family in El Salvador, who farm various small estates in the Santa Ana region, including El Retiro and La Guachoca. They have weathered the storms so far – but have lost a significant percentage of their harvest and are also forecasting a decrease in the 2012/13 crop as a result of the rains.
Here is the update they sent us on 24 October:
1. The amount of rainfall that hit our country during the last couple of weeks has been the largest one that we have experienced in 42 years. (See rainfall graph below). This large amount of rainfall has caused damages in our farms that include: a) fallen coffee cherries, b) Damage to the coffee fruits that are still on the trees, c) Loss of foliage on coffee trees.
2. The negative effect of the storms has been greater in lower altitude farms due to the state of ripeness of the beans during the event. We estimate our average loss to be around 18% of the total estimated harvest, ranging from 5% to 40% depending on each farm and it´s location.
3. Luckily there were no personal damages to any of our staff members or workers.
4. We are very proud to state that we have not had ANY serious incidents of soil erosion in our coffee farms. This is a result of two of our practices: a) Our 4 tier shade system that includes: native mountain trees, ingas, coffee trees, and weed; b) Our soil conservation practices, that include: suachado, cajuelas, fosas and izote barriers.
5. Additionally, our soil conservation practices have allowed a large percentage of water infiltration into the aquifers.
6. As we do in every harvest, we are focused on achieving the best quality possible in our coffees by picking the fruit at its optimal point of ripeness and adequate processing.
7. Due to the loss of foliage that the coffee trees have experienced, we are forecasting a decrease in the 2012/2013 crop as well. We don´t have exact numbers as of now.
8. The logistics in transportation are going to be somewhat complicated since road infrastructure in the country is very damaged at this point.