Continued Rains Bedevil Latin America

We take a quick break from the hijinks and bonhomie of Camp Pull-A-Shot to update you on the ongoing devastation in Latin America. No fewer than 5 tropical storms and two official hurricanes have recently decimated the region. Initial estimates in El Salvador suggested that the loss to the 2011-2012 coffee harvest would be in the ballpark of 100,000 bags. According to the El Salvador Ministry of Agriculture, the damage could be far worse.

The following excerpt comes from a special report by independent analyst Maja Wallengren for CoffeeNetwork.com, a subscription only web source for the coffee industry:

El Salvador’s Ministry of Agriculture has now released its first official report on the damage from the rains and say that the losses will be between 100,000 and up to as much as 283,000 bags of coffee.

While the rains did start to cease in parts of El Salvador and Guatemala over the weekend, where sun was reported for the first time in 10 to 12 days, heavy rains have continued over most of Honduras and parts of Nicaragua all this time because of the formation of a new tropical storm which started forming on Thursday and which by Friday already had become a Tropical Storm Rina. As of a few hours ago Rina had already strengthened to become a powerful Category 2 Hurricane and is expected to become a “major hurricane” of maximum category 4 or 5 in the next few hours. Rina is swirling just off Honduras’ Atlantic coast and is forecast to move along the coast for the next four days before making landfall somewhere on the southern part of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsular. This will bring more and continuous intense rains over most of Honduras for the rest of the week.

The report goes on to say that as much as 20% of the overall coffee production in El Salvador has been lost, and similarly harrowing numbers can be expected from Honduras and Guatemala. 2 million people have been affected by the rains, which thus far have left more than 500,000 people homeless. More than 100 casualties have been reported.

The most recent storm formation, Hurricane Rina, ran up the length of the East coast of Honduras and now sits over the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico. You can track the storm’s progress here. Expect the aftermath of this storm to seriously affect coffee prices, both in the affected regions and in the worldwide markets. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friends Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico.

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