Coffee rust has broken out in Central America and Mexico. This disease, caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix, generally does not kill coffee plants but devastates coffee crops by the defoliation it causes. The latest outbreak may halve the harvest in the areas most severely affected in Costa Rica.
Coffee rust is generally contained through the use of fungicides and crossbreading of resistant coffee plants, but serious attention and time are not always given to this task. Both Colombia and Brazil are working to develop and maintain resistant coffee strains through crossbreeding, but new resistant varieties must continually be developed.
The CABI Distribution Map of Hemileia vastatrix is available to FAO staff through the CAB Abstracts database. In Cab Abstracts, search for the name of the disease + "distribution map" in the title field. Click on the "CAB database pdfs" link in the box in the top right corner of the results page in order to access the map.
For more information on the current coffee rust outbreak, read the article published in Nature on January 30th.