Fight against coffee tree disease draws $23 million

A coalition that includes the U.S. Agency for International Development and Starbucks Corp. launched a $23 million fund to help Latin America farmers fight coffee rust.

The move is part of a growing international effort to combat coffee rust’s devastating impact on Central and South America’s coffee farms, where some of the world’s best beans are grown.

In May, USAID and Texas A&M announced a $5 million partnership to fight the disease, which is caused by a parasitic fungus that is now thriving amid warming climates and changing rain patterns.

The new fund will apply $8 million from USAID and partners Keurig Green Mountain, Cooperative Coffees and Root Capital to train farmers in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru.

In addition, $15 million in investment capital from Boston-based Root Capital, including $3 million provided by Starbucks, will go toward long-term financing for repairing fields ravaged by the disease.

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