Taiwan offers allies help against coffee leaf rust outbreak

COOPERATION::Taiwan will offer concessional loans and assistance from local plant pathologists to help farmers in El Salvador and Honduras

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Sep 04, 2013 - Page 4

Taiwan has offered to help its diplomatic allies eradicate coffee leaf rust by providing funding and expertise to the countries where coffee production is a major source of income, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The plan is aimed at helping farmers improve their ability to weather an outbreak of leaf-rust fungus, International Cooperation and Development Fund deputy secretary-general Morgan Chao (趙家寶) said.

A group of Taiwanese plant pathologists last month paid a visit to Honduras and El Salvador, where they met with government officials and farmers to learn about how the disease has affected coffee plants’ growth and yield since last year, he said.

Under the plan, Taiwan will work with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration to provide loans at concessional rates to small farmers in those countries to help them fight the epidemic, Chao said.

Taiwanese plant pathologists will join the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health to share their knowledge with their Central American counterparts in treating the dreaded leaf-rust disease, he added.

Details of the plan, which has received a warm response from the two countries, could be expected by the end of this year, Chao said.

While coffee is not one of Taiwan’s main crops, Taiwan is highly experienced in the prevention and control of pests and plant diseases, Chao said.

The ministry was confident that coffee leaf rust can be effectively controlled through cooperation between Taiwan and the affected countries, Chao added.