Ever heard of coffee leaf rust? Well, it could mean your cup of joe costs more

U.S. & World

(WJW) – A recent study suggests coffee prices will soon rise due to socioeconomic effects from the pandemic and a possible coffee leaf rust epidemic.

The Rutgers University-led study was published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” journal, according to a release.

“Any major impacts in the global coffee industry will have serious implications for millions of people across the globe, including the coffee retail market here in the United States,” said lead author Kevon Rhiney, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Rutgers-New Brunswick.

Epidemics of coffee leaf rust, a severe fungal disease in plants, have been linked to reduced crop care and investment in coffee farms, according to the study. They occurred after the 2008 global financial crisis.

The study says lockdowns, border policies and unemployment currently hurting the economy can create conditions for future coffee leaf rust epidemics.

The coffee makers are also struggling with the effects of insects, plant diseases and the weather.

The study says COVID-19’s socioeconomic disruptions are likely to drive the coffee industry into a “severe production crisis.”

“Our paper shows that coffee leaf rust outbreaks are complex socio-economic phenomena, and that managing the disease also involves a blend of scientific and social solutions,” Rhiney said. “There is no ‘magic bullet’ that will simply make this problem disappear. Addressing coffee leaf rust involves more than just getting outbreaks under control; it also involves safeguarding farmers’ livelihoods in order to build resilience to future shocks.”

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