Bloomberg News

Colombia Sees Risk Rains That Cut Coffee Output to Return

September 29, 2011

(Adds forecaster’s comment in third paragraph.)

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia, the world’s second- largest producer of Arabica coffee beans, forecast the possible return of a weather pattern that cut coffee and coal output.

Water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean suggest the weather pattern La Nina may reemerge at yearend or early next year, though it would trigger less rainfall than last year, Ricardo Lozano, head of the nation’s weather agency, said today in an interview with Bogota-based Caracol Radio.

Colombian roadways and bridges remain damaged and coal and coffee production have yet to recover fully from above-average rainfall last year that triggered flooding and landslides. Even after the prior La Nina disappeared, rainfall “hasn’t stopped” in some areas and the nation remains vulnerable to landslides and flooding, according to Lozano.

Coffee has rallied about 25 percent in the past year as Colombia fell short of production forecasts. Rainstorms that knocked flowers from coffee plants last year contributed to the nation’s lowest monthly coffee exports in August since 1988.

High humidity also has triggered the “worst-ever” bout of leaf-rust disease ever faced by coffee farmers, Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo said in a Sept. 23 interview. The disease reduces the quality and quantity of the crop.

Exports in August fell to 374,000 bags from 599,000 bags a year earlier, while output slid to a two-year low of 466,000 bags, the National Federation of Coffee Growers said.

In northern Colombia, production at the Cerrejon coal mine will rise to about 32.5 million metric tons this year as the company begins a $1.3 billion expansion, Chief Executive Officer Leon Teicher said Aug. 24. Production at the mine slid to 31.4 million tons in 2010 amid late-year rainstorms.

--Editors: Dale Crofts, Laura Price

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Walsh in Santiago at hlwalsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net


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