Vournas Coffee Trading and Growers First Team up in Oaxaca to Fight Coffee Rust


Coffee Rust has devastated the coffee growing communities of Central and South America. In some cases as much as 75-90% of crops can be lost, and in a community where every dollar is precious.


Vournas Coffee Trading of Westlake Village, CA has been working with Growers First to provide new coffee seedling in areas that have been hard hit by “la roya” or coffee rust. This post describes a recent replanting trip to Oaxaca, Mexico.

Last month I arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico and began a two day journey to the isolated coffee community of Ixtepec. This was no vacation. Traveling with Dave Day and Geron Gray of Growers First, I was part of a call-to-action aimed at saving a group of farmers whose coffee crop had been ravaged by la roya.


Growers First had arranged for the transfer of 40,000 to 50,000 Arabica seedlings to the Oaxacan farmers, and Vournas Coffee Trading was there to assist in the re-planting by helping Growers First hand out the new coffee saplings.

Advanced water filtration systems also needed to be assembled and distributed, but that’s just the beginning. It took a full day’s drive to reach the outskirts of Ixtepec where we slept for the night.

The final stretch up the mountain was very slow moving. We’re talking small, dirt roads littered with switch-backs and a 4,000′ climb. When we arrived, I met project manager Saul, and his father Lau, respectively second and third generation coffee farmers.

They showed me first hand the damage done by la roya, (coffee rust) which was significant. Roughly 75% of their crop has been lost, literally hundreds of thousands of coffee trees, delivering a devastating blow to a community where every cent and every dollar counts.

The farmers had their hands full. Roya damaged trees had to be painstakingly removed by hand, an understandably emotional and scary process for the families who have been harvesting cherry from the same trees for multiple generations.

Luckily, Growers First was able to provide some chain saws to speed things up. Later, amid the traditional mid-day lunch of hand-made corn tortillas and beans, we began assembling the water filtration systems. As Dave Day explained their function and detailed their maintenance, everyone became overjoyed to learn that illness from water-borne disease and bacteria could now be prevented.

Full Article Here: Miles to Oaxaca

Andrew Vournas and Growers First meet with Growers in Mexico (Photo: Vournas Coffee Trading)

We applaud the efforts to reinvigorate the rust devastated coffee farms. Keep in mind that a coffee tree will not produce until the third year, and not fully until the 5th year. These coffee farmers have a difficult road ahead, but at least with new trees there can be hope for the future.

©2015 Ben Gangloff

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