Colombia's coffee growers say they fear La Nina will deal their struggling sector another blow. As Sonia Legg reports the forecasted rains coming after the El Nino drought aren't helping it keep up with Brazil and Vietnam.
If it's not one thing, it's another - at least that's the way these coffee growers in Colombia see it. First they had to contend with the El Nino drought - now it's the coming La Nina rains. The former produces shrunken beans - the latter over wet soil and an increased risk of disease. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) COFFEE FEDERATION MANAGER, ROBERTO VELEZ "Strangely enough for coffee production the La Nina phenomena is actually more dangerous than El Nino." Colombia is the world's top producer of high quality Arabica beans. And over the past 12 months it's produced 14.6 million 60-kg bags of washed Arabica. That's more than 2015's output which was the highest harvest in 23 years. But many remember the three years from 2009 when weather, disease and a renovation programme caused a sharp fall in output. Productivity also remains an issue. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) COFFEE FEDERATION MANAGER, ROBERTO VELEZ "Today we produce about 18 sacks per hectare but we're a long way from the 22 to 30 sacks that Brazil produces, and the 50 sacks in Vietnam." Lowering standards may be an answer. Last year growers were allowed to sell poorer-quality beans during the drought. But when your reputation is built on being the best that's not without risk.