High fertilizer prices impact El Salvador's coffee fincas
The high price of petroleum products has made fertilizer unaffordable for many coffee farmers in El Salvador and the rest of Latin America. This Reuters report describes the problem:
SANTIAGO DE MARIA, El Salvador, Aug 13 (Reuters) - The thinning trees of El Salvador's coffee orchards are the most visible signs of strain on an industry that should be booming.
Coffee prices are near their highest since a global coffee crisis earlier this decade, but growers say fertilizer costs are rising even faster, hurting their ability nurture plants.
In Latin America, home to some 60 percent of global production, farmers say output will suffer.
"With fertilizer prices so high, we haven't been able to fertilize, and we'll feel the effects in the next harvest," said Luis Roque, an agronomist at the UNEX coffee exporting company that grows arabica beans in El Salvador.
Gazing at the coffee trees lining the slopes of a nearby volcano, in the town of Santiago de Maria, Roque points at stunted branches of usually robust trees, where thinning leaves show sub-standard nutrition.
Fertilizer prices, stable for almost a decade, have skyrocketed in the last year on high demand and as oil and natural gas prices rose....
With less nutrients, trees will bare fewer beans than usual next year, likely pushing up prices of the world's second most traded commodity after oil.
Prices for common phosphate fertilizers have increased five-fold in the past 15 months to an unprecedented $1,230 per tonne. At that level, farmers must use close to a third of what they earn per pound of coffee just to pay for fertilizers.