Tragedy reported today from El Salvador as heavy rains from Hurricane Ida are blamed for triggering a landslide which left at least 134 dead. From the Seattle Times:
Days of heavy rains loosed mud and boulders that rolled down the slopes of the Chichontepec volcano before dawn Sunday, burying homes and cars in Verapaz, a town of about 7,000 people 30 miles (50 kilometers) outside the capital, San Salvador.
Meanwhile, rains not associated with a specific storm have caused the Colombian coffee harvest to be projected as far less than expected (down as much as 30 percent!). From Bloomberg.com:
Colombia, the world’s third-largest coffee producer, will harvest 30 percent less this year and output won’t return to œcustomary levels until at least 2011, exporters said.
Colombia will produce œbarely 8 million bags in 2009, down from 11.5 million bags in 2008, said Mauricio Bernal, president of the committee overseeing Colombia’s national coffee exporters association.
Stories like these are a constant reminder to me of how fragile our environment is and what an ongoing challenge it is to practice agriculture for the people who grow what we all rely on for our livelihood, coffee, and how many obstacles they must overcome on a regular basis.
Ken: Thanks for the post and the reflection about the fragility of farmer livelihoods! I live in Guatemala and work at an international development agency where we have been accompanying smallholder coffee farmers for many years. This post illustrates something we cope with every day: years of toil to improve productivity and quality to meet the high and rising standards of the U.S. marketplace can be swept away literally overnight. Thanks for being sensitive to this reality and helping others to see it! FYI, my colleagues in El Salvador are planning to do some field research in the coming weeks after the rains let up to assess their impacts on the coffee harvest. If there are any results worth sharing, I will come back and post the key findings here.