The next COVID casualty: Your cup of coffee?

The COVID-19 pandemic's next casualty could be your daily cup of coffee, according to a new report.

Reasearchers from Purdue University say that coffee leaf rust, a powdery orange fungus known as CLR, has been spreading throughout Latin and Central America, damaging crops on 70% of farms and causing over $3.2B in damages.

The COVID-19 pandemic has now also limited the movement of the migrant workers needed to harvest coffee throughout Latin and Central America. 

With no crops being harvested, profits fall, and the feedback loop intensifies.

Put together, these two issues could make it more difficult for coffee lovers to get their morning fixes.

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"Resource-constrained coffee farmers subject to these conditions often experience a self-reinforcing feedback loop in which falling profits lead to reduced plant care. This sets the conditions for CLR to proliferate, resulting in further loss, and reduced profitability," the researchers wrote.

As a result, CLR has been spreading rapidly, reaching Hawaii for the first time in the fall of 2020. 

The researchers suggested a number of issues to help with the problem: sourcing coffee from more areas, including those not as severely impacted by the fungus; diversifying farms and livelihoods of coffee farmers; increasing prices paid to farmers and fostering more sustainable management practices; increasing coffee consumption and demand to raise prices paid to farmers; and developing cooperatives and partnerships to pool resources, knowledge and funding for coffee farmers. 

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