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El Nino-Induced Droughts May Hike Coffee Prices Further

By By Kristina Pydynowski
June 25, 2014, 3:52:37 PM EDT

The upcoming El Niño threatens to drive coffee prices up further, which are already high due to drought in Brazil and as a fungus plagues coffee crops in Central America. meteorologists expect the onset of El Niño during midsummer, leading to drought in many of the top coffee-producing countries.

"During an El Niño, there is a strong correlation between dry weather in Central America," stated Agricultural Weather Expert Dale Mohler.

"The drought that is likely to result threatens to reduce this year's coffee crop even further in the region."


The coffee crop across Central America is already suffering due to the plant-choking fungus called coffee rust, or la roya, according to an article by the New York Times.

The article states that the latest epidemic of coffee rust started in Central America three years ago and has advanced to the highest elevations. Coffee rust outbreaks in the 1970s and 1980s were contained at lower elevations.

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Rising temperatures and extreme weather, such as flooding, have encouraged the coffee rust to spread, Ana R. Ríos, a climate change specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank told the New York Times.

Central America is home to four of the top 15 producing countries of green coffee (what milled coffee beans are called), according to Index Mundi.

At the top of that list sits Brazil, which endured a drought at the end of the growing season this past February and March, continued Mohler.

"As a result, we saw the price of coffee almost double from early February to mid-March," Mohler said.


Vietnam and Colombia are the world's second and third largest producers of green coffee and may not escape the effects of El Niño.

"These countries could be on the edge of El Niño impacts and may turn drier than normal," Mohler said. Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls also anticipates El Niño to impact India, the sixth greatest producer of green coffee, but not where coffee is grown.

"El Niño will hinder monsoonal rain across northern India this summer. However along the southwestern coast of India, I expect normal to above-normal rainfall from June through September," Nicholls said.

"The coffee-producing countries of Indonesia and Malaysia are currently in the midst of a drought and will stay in a drought due to El Niño," Mohler added.

Indonesia and Malaysia rank fourth and 14th, respectively, in terms of green coffee production.


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