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Costa Rica Government to Invest $140 million to Coffee Farmers

By Adam Williams
Tico Times Staff | [email protected]
A trust fund worth $140 million will be devoted to helping Costa Rican coffee growers over the next four years, the government of President Laura Chinchilla announced Thursday. In an effort to improve ailing coffee exports, which fell by 41 percent in 2009, the Agriculture Ministry, the Banco Nacional, the Development Bank System and the Coffee Institute of Costa Rica ( ICAFE) plan to use the funds to put 30,000 hectares of land into production.

“For many years, coffee exports have been one of the motors in the Costa Rican economy,” said Guido Vargas, president of ICAFE’s board of directors. “The reduction in production has greatly affected farms and families in several regions of the country. We have survived, but hopefully this assistance will return coffee production to its level of previous years.”

After a banner year in 2008, when the Costa Rican coffee sector generated exports worth $339 million, the value of exports in 2009 fell to $198 million. The largest decreases in exports were seen in coffee from the northern and Central Valley regions. According to ICAFE, the average production per hectare fell from 27 to 21 sacks between 2001 and 2010. The institute also mentioned that during the same time frame, nearly 36 percent of the coffee plants used in production reached the end of their 25-year harvest life.

Should the $140 million trust achieve its goal of revitalizing 30,000 hectares of land for coffee production, it would increase the current area dedicated to coffee by about 30 percent, which could account for an additional 2.5 million sacks of coffee. Currently, 98,681 hectares are committed to coffee production in the country.

The program’s financial assistance will be distributed to an estimated 50,000 coffee producers throughout the country.

“This is a very important day for the national coffee industry,” said Agriculture Minister Gloria Abraham. “It is a sector in the hands of small producers who are highly efficient and productive and who in the last few years have been confronted with the aging of their plantations. The National Coffee Growers Revitalization Program will install policies to ensure that this sector is again as productive as it can be.”

Coffee, Costa Rica, ICAFE