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Coffee Fungus Prompts State of Emergency in Guatemala

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Guatemala declared a state of emergency to address a worsening outbreak of coffee fungus in Central America’s biggest economy.

President Otto Perez Molina said the government will set aside 40 million quetzales ($5.1 million) to buy pesticides and provide support to small farmers that represent 55 percent of the coffee growers in the country. An additional 60 million quetzales will go to similar projects for larger farmers.

“This is not a problem just for coffee growers, it’s a social problem that will have side effects and repercussions in the loss of jobs,” Perez Molina said in a statement posted on the government’s website today.

The Guatemalan National Coffee Association said that rust disease, known as roya in Spanish, will destroy 15 percent of the 2012-2013 harvest and as much as 40 percent of next season’s harvest.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Edgerton in Miami at aedgerton@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Helder Marinho at hmarinho@bloomberg.net

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