Archive for the ‘Fungi’ Category




At a Virginia Tech-led conference in Nepal, agriculture experts learn that employing Trichoderma can save millions of people from disease, save billions of dollars in crop loss, and safeguard the environment by reducing toxic pesticide use.

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The Economist
Jul 26th 2014 | CHINCHINÁ | From the print edition

coffee rust20140726_AMP001_0

How Colombia fought the fungus

WHEN Jesús María Aguirre saw his coffee bushes wither away, he knew that he had lost the sole source of income for his family. “We would go to collect coffee and would come back with our baskets nearly empty,” says the Colombian grower, recalling the pernicious effects of the “coffee rust” fungus, or roya.

The fungus stunts the growth of the fruit of arabica coffee plants. It infected about 40% of Colombia’s crop between 2008 and 2012. Production plunged from a high of 12.6m 60kg bags a year in 2007 to just 7.7m bags in 2012. As supply from Colombia shrank, international buyers turned to growers elsewhere.

What Mr Aguirre went through then is now the lot of farmers throughout Central America, the Dominican Republic, southern Mexico and Jamaica. Production there fell by 30% between 2011 and 2013 because of roya, reckons the International Coffee Organisation. USAID thinks it has caused $1 billion of economic damage in Latin America since 2012. This time Colombians are the ones taking advantage.

On his farm on the slopes of the country’s central mountain range, Mr Aguirre today presides over 1.5 hectares (4 acres) of healthy bushes plump with red berries. For yields to recover, he had to yank up fungus-prone bushes and plant a new variety that promised to fight off the blight. He was one of thousands of farmers who joined in a countrywide scheme run by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, which represents more than 500,000 independent growers. By June 2014 more than 3 billion bushes had been replanted.

Three-quarters of them were replaced with a roya-resistant variety known as Castillo, which had been developed in the labs of Cenicafé, the coffee federation’s research arm, after 13 years of selective breeding. Lindsey Bolger, head coffee buyer for Keurig Green Mountain, a roaster in the United States, said the industry was “on pins and needles” about whether the Castillo would work. It has. Colombia produced 11.5m bags in the 12 months to June 2014, up by 31% on the previous 12-month period, according to the coffee federation. Buyers are coming back.

Fernando Gast, Cenicafé’s director, says seeds of the Castillo coffee plants have been sent to Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica for evaluation. But he warns that Colombia’s success story is not directly transferable to Central America. The Castillo variety was created for Colombia’s needs and may not adapt to Central America’s soil and climate, he says.

Cenicafé’s 89 researchers cannot rest easy, either. They are working on a project to map the coffee genome. That should help them develop new varieties that will not only resist roya, which is continuously evolving, but will also be less susceptible to erratic weather. The search for a stronger brew is never over.

From the print edition: The Americas

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Environmental News Network



July 30, 2013 06:05 AM

As if there were a need for even more evidence that global warming is a real, verifiable and evidenced threat, new research is showing Central and South American coffee production is drastically dropping because of higher global temperatures.
Add extreme rainfall totals to the mix and the result is rampant insects and damaged plants. If economics won’t convince people the earth is warming, perhaps interrupting their coffee supply will.

A traditionally reliable and adequate income, coffee farming is becoming a more challenging option. Where entire communities once depended on coffee to perpetuate their economies, farming families need to find alternative sources of income.
Last year, production dropped 70%. A fungus called Coffee Rust is killing of coffee plants quickly where lower temperatures once prevented the spread of the fungus. If ever there was a clear connection between global warming and the declining of production and community stability.
Beans from the area that is seeing the most dramatic trouble produce 16% of Columbian coffee, and command high prices in specialty coffees. Don’t think that insulates you generic brand coffee drinkers. The entire supply chain is cross-pollinated (no pun intended) and will result in higher prices across the spectrum of quality.
Article continues: http://globalwarmingisreal.com/2011/04/05/coffee-production-and-climate-change/

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From: Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press
Published November 11, 2004 12:00 AM

BATON ROUGE, La. − The first U.S. cases of the fungus soybean rust, which hinders plant growth and drastically cuts crop production, were found at two research sites in Louisiana, officials said Wednesday.

The fungus is primarily spread by wind-borne spores, which are suspected to have blown in from South America during the hurricane season and were found after the bulk of the state’s soybeans had been harvested, Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom said.

Though agriculture officials said the effect of the fungus should be minimal this year because it appeared after much of the harvest, Odom said he was worried that Louisiana’s soybeans wouldn’t sell as well.

“What we’re scared of is that the market may drop in Louisiana because of the rust aspect of it, and I don’t see any reason for it because most of the beans have already been harvested,” he said.

“The market may say, ‘We don’t want your soybeans,'” Odom said.

Soybean prices rose about 3 percent Wednesday on the Chicago Board of Trade, largely due to news of the disease. The January contract for soybeans rose 14 1/2 cents to $5.25 a bushel.

“If it happened during the growing season, it would have had a much bigger effect,” said Dale Gustafson, a grains analyst for Smith Barney in Chicago. “But the impact of that news on this year’s crop is negligible.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was sending a team of scientists and regulators to Louisiana to help identify the fungus and determine if it’s spread beyond the LSU research sites in St. Gabriel and Baton Rouge, where the samples of the fungal disease were taken Saturday.

“Soybean rust has never been detected in the United States before,” said Richard Dunkle, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Dunkle said of the two rust species, Louisiana’s cases are known as the Asian species, or “the more aggressive of the two species, causing more damage to the soybean plants.”

Soybean rust can be treated with fungicides, but that adds increased costs to the production of soybeans. USDA officials said the fungicide treatment costs an average of about $25 per acre, increasing the cost of soybean production about 20 percent in affected areas.

The fungus creates tan and reddish-brown blotches on the under-side of growing leaves, weakening the plant and reducing yields. The infections can spread quickly and has been found in Australia, South America, Asia and Africa.

Keith Collins, chief economist for the USDA, said he didn’t believe the fungus would have any effect on exports, noting the United States was the only major soybean producer in the world without soybean rust and the other countries have been exporting despite the presence of the fungus.

Source: Associated Press

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From: Carrie Khan, NPR
Published July 28, 2014 07:32 AM

Outside the northern Guatemalan town of Olopa, near the Honduran border, farmer Edwin Fernando Diaz Viera stands in the middle of his tiny coffee field. He says it was his lifelong dream to own a farm here. The area is renowned for producing some of the world’s richest Arabica, the smooth-tasting beans beloved by specialty coffee brewers.

“My farm was beautiful, it was big,” he says.

But then, a plant fungus called coffee rust, or roya in Spanish, hit his crop.

“Coffee rust appeared and wiped out everything,” he says.

But then, a plant fungus called coffee rust, or roya in Spanish, hit his crop.
“Coffee rust appeared and wiped out everything,” he says.
That was in 2012, and it was Diaz Viera’s first crop. The rust took it all. The fungus roared over the hillsides, covered the valleys and clung to the slopes of Guatemala’s shady volcanoes.
The fungus has spread through Central America at an alarming rate, causing crop losses of more than a billion dollars. And it is leaving hundreds of thousands unemployed in its wake.
In El Salvador, nearly three quarters of all coffee trees are infected with the fungus; in Costa Rica more than 60 percent are infected. And in Guatemala, coffee rust now covers 70 percent of the crop, resulting in the loss of at least 100,000 jobs and a 15 percent drop in coffee output over the last two years.

Read more at NPR.

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Logo for IPM CRSP

Annual Report 2013
Posted on May 27, 2014 by Kelly Izlar
The IPM Innovation Labs’s FY 2013 (October 1, 2012–September 30, 2013) annual report is now available. Click below to download the document.


For users with lower bandwidth and/or with interest in only certain specific topic areas, we will split individual chapters and major sections out of the Annual Report for you to view individually. Check back in the coming weeks for a list of individual chapters and sections for download. For more information contact: rmuni@vt.edu

Table of Contents

Management Entity Message
Highlights and Achievements in 2012–2013

Regional Programs
Latin America and the Caribbean
East Africa
West Africa
South Asia
Southeast Asia
Central Asia

Global Programs
International Plant Diagnostic Network (IPDN)
International Plant Virus Disease Network (IPVDN)
Impact Assessment
Gender Equity, Knowledge, and Capacity Building

Associate & Buy-In Awards

Training and Publications
Short- and Long-Term Training

Appendices: Collaborating Institutions and Acronyms

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Blunting Rice Disease
Researchers aim to disarm a ‘cereal killer’

Released: 6/2/2014 9:55 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Delaware



This image shows, from top, rice that is not infected with the rice blast fungus; rice infected with rice blast; and infected rice treated with the beneficial microbe Pseudomonas chlororaphis EA105

Newswise — A fungus that kills an estimated 30 percent of the world’s rice crop may finally have met its match, thanks to a research discovery made by scientists at the University of Delaware and the University of California at Davis.
The research team, led by Harsh Bais, associate professor of plant and soil sciences in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has identified a naturally occurring microbe living right in the soil around rice plants — Pseudomonas chlororaphis EA105 — that inhibits the devastating fungus known as rice blast. What’s more, the beneficial soil microbe also induces a system-wide defense response in rice plants to battle the fungus.
The research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is published in BMC Plant Biology and includes, along with Bais, authors Carla Spence, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences, Emily Alff, who recently earned her master’s degree in plant and soil sciences, and Nicole Donofrio, associate professor of plant and soil sciences, all from UD; and Sundaresan Venkatesan, professor, Cameron Johnson, assistant scientist, and graduate student Cassandra Ramos, all from UC Davis.
“We truly are working to disarm a ‘cereal killer’ and to do so using a natural, organic control,” says Bais, in his laboratory at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute. In addition to rice, a distinct population of the rice blast fungus also now threatens wheat production worldwide.
“Rice blast is a relentless killer, a force to be reckoned with, especially as rice is a staple in the daily diet of more than half the world’s population — that’s over 3 billion people,” Bais notes. “As global population continues to grow, biocontrol bacteria may be an important key for farmers to overcome crop losses due to plant disease and to produce more food from the same acre of land.”
According to Bais, the rice blast fungus (Magnaporthe oryzae) attacks rice plants through spores resembling pressure plugs that penetrate the plant tissue. Once these spores infiltrate the cell wall, the fungus “eats the plant alive,” as Bais says. Common symptoms of rice blast are telltale diamond shaped-lesions on the plant leaves.
In order to do its work, the spore must produce a structure called the appressorium, a filament that adheres to the plant surface like an anchor. Without it, the fungus can’t invade the plant.
In a research study published in the journal Planta this past October, Bais and colleagues Spence, Donofrio and Vidhyavathi Raman showed that Pseudomonas chlororaphis EA105 strongly inhibited the formation of the appressorium and that priming rice plants with EA105 prior to infection by rice blast decreased lesion size.
For her work, Spence, the lead author, recently received the Carson Best Paper Award for the best scientific paper published by a Ph.D. student in biological sciences at UD.
The next step in the research was to sample the rhizosphere, the soil in the region around the roots of rice plants growing in the field, to reveal the microbial community living there and to attempt to elucidate their roles.
Thanks to DNA sequencing techniques, Bais says that identifying the various microorganisms in soil is easy. But understanding the role of each of those microorganisms is a continuing story.
A natural control for a deadly fungus
“Everyone knows what’s there, but we don’t know what they are doing,” Bais says of the microbes. To home in on the source of the antifungal impact, Bais and his colleagues are relying on what he refers to as “old school culturing” to find out if a single bacterium or a group of different bacteria are at work.
In their study reported in BMC Plant Biology, the researchers used gene sequencing techniques to identify 11 naturally occurring bacteria isolated from rice plants grown in the field in California. These bacteria were then tested in the laboratory, with Pseudomonas chlororaphis EA105 demonstrating the strongest impact on rice blast. The soil microbe reduced the formation of the anchor-like appressoria by nearly 90 percent while also inhibiting fungal growth by 76 percent.
Bais points out that although hydrogen cyanide is commonly produced by pseudomonad bacteria, the antifungal impact of Pseudomonas chlororaphis EA105 appears to be independent of cyanide production.
Applying a natural soil microbe as an antifungal treatment versus chemical pesticides offers multiple benefits to farmers and the environment, Bais says.
“Rice blast quickly learns how to get around synthetics — most manmade pesticides are effective only for about three years,” Bais says. “So it’s really cool to find a biological that can attenuate this thing.”
Bais, who also has conducted multiple studies with beneficial microbes in the Bacillus family, envisions a day when farmers will treat plants with a “magic cocktail of microbes” naturally found in soil to help boost their immunity and growth.
This summer, he and his colleagues will conduct field trials using Pseudomonas chlororaphis EA105 on rice plants grown on the UD farm. He also will work with farmers in the central states in India.
The research is supported by a $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Plant Genome Research Project.

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May 30th, 2014
A development strategy to fight and contain a potentially deadly outbreak of the Tropical Race (TR4) strain of Panama Disease in Mozambique is being put together by a team of delegates who gathered in Africa last month to discuss a tactical approach to suppressing the banana disease so it doesn’t spread elsewhere on the continent. At www.freshfruitportal.com we reveal details of the workshop program ahead of an in-depth report to be published later this year.

Over the last few weeks a delegation of banana experts has been involved in discussions centering on the spread of TR4 to the African continent.

Since the fungus was discovered on a Matanuska banana plantation 15 months ago, a team of experts has joined forces to set up educational programs, while it is understood that a ‘continental action plan’ is currently being drafted.

Key players include the South African research institute Stellenbosch University, the South African Development Community (SADC), the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The program is also being supported and part funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

“When symptoms of yellowing and wilting of Cavendish bananas that appeared to be spreading were observed in an export plantation in northern Mozambique in February 2013, few would have expected the immense challenges that the following 12 months would bring,” the group has said in an initial report obtained by www.freshfruitportal.com.

“Once the cause of the symptoms was established, business became unusual for many on the continent, and indeed globally, as banana producers and their associated organizations started looking for answers to their questions and for measures to protect their crops.

“The development of a continental action plan to protect bananas in Africa became priority. Foc TR4 is not new to the banana world anymore. It has been ravaging Cavendish plantations and some local banana varieties in Asia for more than two decades.”

The document highlighted that bananas were a staple food for millions of people in Africa, and therefore it was necessary to form not only a containment strategy for the affected farm, but to make the whole continent prepared against a spread and possible reintroduction.

“This is exactly what the African meeting on TR4 intends to achieve,” the report adds.

It goes on to explain the considerable damage to Cavendish bananas and other locally-grown varieties in other countries around the world and how Mozambique needs to manage the disease outbreak.

“To prepare African countries reliant on banana for food and security and income generation, it is necessary to implement a series of informed interventions. The first priority is to contain the outbreak in northern Mozambique and prevent its spread across the region and to neighbouring countries.

“The second phase of activities is to prepare other countries dependent on banana against future incursions of this disease through enhanced plant bio-security frameworks and research capacity.

“Different types of banana germplasm, reflecting the diversity cultivated in Africa, require screening for resistance to Foc TR4, and the appropriate adoption and delivery pathways developed to provide resistant planting materials to hundreds of millions of Africans who depend on the crop for food security and income generation.”

The full report will contain further information including scientific advances and research approaches to detect and manage TR4, the potential impact TR4 will have on food availability in Africa, trans-boundary plant pest management in Africa, a mapping of the risks of any potential spread, and an overall official strategy to manage its control which sets out clear roles and responsibilities for all the institutions involved.

“This is not a task that a single research group or country can achieve. The discovery of TR4 in Mozambique is not a company or country issue. It is a continental issue which needs to be addresses by research organizations, national plant protection organizations, universities and governments throughout Africa,” the report goes on to say.

“The opportunity to develop a strategy and coordinate efforts on the continent has been made possible by much appreciated sponsorship and we thank the organizations for recognizing the importance of the outbreak and for enabling us to develop a combined strategy to deal with it.”

Meanwhile there has been somewhat of a global focus on maintaining TR4 Panama Disease this year with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations hosting a forum in Rome recently to outline the threat it poses to the international banana industry, food security and economies.

Chiquita CEO Ed Lonergan has also praised the global banana industry for its efforts to deal with TR4 and warned it would be prudent to prepare for life without the Cavendish.



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ABC Rural By Matt Brann

Updated Mon 12 May 2014, 1:41pm AEST
Banana Freckle disease


PHOTO: Banana Freckle has been found in the city of Palmerston, NT (Kristy O’Brien)


The Northern Territory city of Palmerston is in ‘banana lock-down’ after the fungal disease known as Banana Freckle was discovered in the suburb of Gray.

The NT’s Chief plant health manager, Stephen West, says the entire city has been declared a quarantine area and banana plants will have to be destroyed if they’re within one kilometre of the infected property.

“For those people that are within a five kilometre area of that property, they’ll be within what we call our control area,” he said.

“So what that basically means is that they can’t plant any new bananas and they can’t move any plant material.

“There will be some people that will lose their bananas in Palmerston.”

Mr West says no banana plant material will be allowed in or out of Palmerston while the quarantine zone is in place.

Banana Freckle was first discovered on Cavendish bananas in the Northern Territory last year, and a number of Top End areas are now under quarantine.

Around $4.4 million is being spent on trying to eradicate Banana Freckle from the Territory.

A Banana Freckle Hotline has been set up on 1800 771 163. For more information click here.

Dr Stephen West was on the NT Country Hour today to explain the ramifications of finding Banana Freckle in Palmerston, click on the audio link to hear that interview.



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Four million people in Central America and southern Mexico rely on coffee for their living, and coffee rust is a major threat. Credit Janet Jarman for The New York Times



A Coffee Crop Withers
Fungus Cripples Coffee Production Across Central America

SAN LUCAS TOLIMÁN, Guatemala — When coffee rust attacked the farms clinging to the volcanic slopes above this Mayan town, the disease was unsparing, reducing mountainside rows of coffee trees to lattices of gray twigs.

During last year’s harvest, Román Lec, who grows coffee on a few acres here, lost half his crop. This year, he borrowed about $2,000 for fertilizer and fungicide to protect the plants, as he did last year. But the disease returned and he lost even more.

“There are nights when you cannot sleep, thinking how to pay back the money,” said Mr. Lec, 65.

A plant-choking fungus called coffee rust, or la roya, has swept across Central America, withering trees and slashing production everywhere. As exports have plunged over the last two years, the effects have rippled through the local economies.

Big farmers hire fewer workers to pick the ripe coffee cherries that enclose the beans. Smaller farmers go into debt and sell livestock or tools to make up for the lost income. Sales fall at local merchants. Teenagers leave school to work on the farm because their parents can no longer hire outside help. At the very end of the chain are the landless migrant workers who earn just a few dollars a day.

The Declining Coffee Harvest
A fungus called “coffee rust” has caused declining harvests of Guatemalan coffee in the last two years. Luis Antonio, a coffee bean farmer, says the spread of the fungus is threatening his livelihood.

“If you frame this in terms of everyone that is connected to the economics of coffee, it’s a very serious problem,” said Roberto de Michele, a specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank who is based in Guatemala City.

The coffee rust has spread far and fast, driven by higher temperatures in the region that have allowed the fungus to thrive at higher altitudes. Many experts say climate change is largely to blame for the shifting weather patterns.

The economics of the business have added to the farmers’ plight. After years of low coffee prices, smaller farmers could not afford to replace aging coffee plants, which have proved more vulnerable to the rust’s attack.

“There was nothing to hold it back because the farms were in very poor shape,” said Maja Wallengren, a coffee expert based in Mexico.

The trouble here is just one of several factors that are pushing up prices in the global commodity market, increases that may carry over to supermarket shelves and the specialty coffee houses that sell the high-grade arabica coffee for which Central America is known. Market prices have risen 70 to 80 percent since November, driven mostly by drought in Brazil, the world’s largest producer.

In Central America, the pain is acute. Four million people there and in southern Mexico rely on coffee for their living, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. Twenty percent of the half-million jobs in Guatemala directly tied to the crop have already disappeared, estimated Nils Leporowski, the president of Anacafé, the country’s coffee board.

The rust outbreak has pushed many families to the edge of survival.

Nicolás Leja, in Guatemala, has lost as much as 60 percent of his production over the last two years. “The coffee income is very important,” he said. “It pays for corn and beans.”
“Roya has exposed the depth of the social and economic problems in terms of people’s vulnerability to the market and to climate change,” said Peter Loach, the Guatemala director of Mercy Corps, an aid agency. “What makes it different and complicated is that it’s a slow-onset natural disaster over two to three years.”

Even in good years, José Obispo Tax Talé, 34, had to scrimp to feed his eight children. In the past, his work as a day laborer on coffee farms would give him just enough money to rent land, buy fertilizer and grow corn for food.

Since the coffee rust hit, farmers are hiring fewer workers and paying less. So Mr. Tax had to borrow about $1,300 to grow corn. “Sometimes, you get desperate,” he said. “You want to work, but there is none.”

This year, the lean season, when food supplies run out for the poorest farmers, started two months early, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, a monitoring service, because of falling coffee earnings and reduced corn yields over the last couple of years. Forecasts of irregular rainfall this summer raise additional concern.

“Year after year, these families are confronted by layers of vulnerability,” said Anne Valand of the World Food Programme, who estimated that as many as 300,000 Guatemalans could need emergency food aid later this year. “Bit by bit, the layers are becoming thinner.”

As the coffee rust has taken hold, farmers have been spending much of their time and money trying to fight the disease by spraying fungicide, replacing or cutting back old plants, and managing the shade trees that filter sunlight and appear to reduce the spread of the rust.

“People are scared of the roya,” said Nicolás Leja, who farms about seven acres in plots in San Antonio Palopó, a nearby municipality. He pruned his trees and sprayed fungicide, but it proved futile. He has lost as much as 60 percent of his production over the last two years.

Instead of hiring four workers for the harvest as he usually does, he relied on extra labor from his 18-year-old son, who put off plans to study medicine.

The changing fortunes of Guatemala’s small farmers raise the question of whether some of them should continue to grow coffee at all or instead should switch to food crops. Some say they could not make the change even if they wanted to.

“Beans and corn don’t grow well here,” Mr. Leja said, pointing at the steep hillside. “The coffee income is very important. It pays for corn and beans.”

The latest epidemic of coffee rust began in Central America three years ago. It spread rapidly last year, prompting most governments to declare states of emergency. Last year’s harvest fell 15 percent in Guatemala, and neighboring countries had losses as big and even bigger. Export figures suggest that Guatemala’s harvest this year has fallen an additional 10 percent.

Nobody has escaped. Guillermo Ríos, a midsize producer who grows coffee on 37 acres near the Mexican border in Huehuetenango, said he had sprayed fungicide four times and managed to limit the outbreak to just 10 percent of the plantation.

“My priority is to rescue what I invested,” he said in a telephone interview. But his profit was minimal, and the higher costs have halted his plans to add plants on additional land he owns. He will hire fewer workers than he expected.

While rust hit Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, the outbreaks were contained at lower altitudes. This rust outbreak has advanced to the highest altitudes, including the steep slopes here around Lake Atitlán. Rising temperatures and extreme weather, like flooding, have encouraged roya’s spread, said Ana R. Ríos, a climate change specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank.

With the changing conditions, the industry is intensifying efforts to breed varieties that are resistant to rust and heat stress while maintaining their quality. But the research is only beginning, and it may take 25 or 30 years before resistant hybrids reach farmers, said Leonardo Lombardini, the deputy director of World Coffee Research at Texas A&M University.

“The problem is that farmers are struggling and also the climate is changing rapidly,” Mr. Lombardini said. “The window of climate conditions for arabica is relatively narrow.”

Researchers are also growing plants from seeds collected all over the world and sending them to different countries for field trials to see where they thrive. That should give farmers who do not have much money to invest some assurances that when they replace their old trees, the new ones will be productive.

In the meantime, the priority is returning the farms to health.

Guatemala’s agriculture ministry provided small farmers with fungicide last year, although many complained that it reached them too late or that it was not enough. Others simply sold it. The government has increased the amount of money in a fund to provide low-interest loans to $100 million and extended it to 2026. The fund had only $28 million when the measure was approved last fall.

“The coffee here is positioned for its quality like the wines of France,” said José Sebastián Marcucci, Guatemala’s vice minister of agriculture. “The majority of coffee comes from the small producers. I hope that they can be motivated.”

With help from Anacafé, the government is showing farmers how to prune and replace their trees. They also plant beans and vegetables between the coffee seedlings to provide food while they wait three years for them to start producing.

More and more farmers are listening. Servando Santos, 56, the manager at the San Miguel Integrated Agricultural Cooperative in Tzampetey, said he fought off the rust by spraying fungicide, using fertilizer and controlling the shade over his plants. “You have to adapt to the roya,” he said. “You have to make friends with it.”

Mike McDonald contributed reporting from Guatemala City.

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