Hemileia vastatrix, or Coffee Leaf Rust, is currently ravaging its way through farms in Latin America. Today, Colombia announces that four plantations in the Santander Department are officially rust-free, more than 36,000 hectares in tota. Huffington Post has more:

The breakthrough is thanks in part to Colombian institutions like Cenicafé, a research organization funded by the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia), which HuffPost profiled earlier this year. Many plantations in the regions — Socorro, Paramo, Palmas and Valle de San Jose in Santander, Colombia — planted rust-resistant coffee plant strains developed by Cenicafé, which helped beat the fungus.

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These regions are the first and only in Latin America to be declared coffee rust-free. In a press release, the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia revealed that more than 88,958 acres (36,000 hectares) in Santander are now coffee rust-free, helping to boost coffee production across Colombia by 26 percent.

“It is basically a milestone of the long path,” said Luis Fernando Samper, the organization’s chief communications and marketing officer, in an interview with The Huffington Post. Other countries, he stressed, could learn a great deal from Colombia’s research institutions.

Sustainable Harvest has set up a disaster relief program they’re calling “The Roya Recovery Project“. World Coffee Research is out in front as well, having recently organized the First International Coffee Rust Summit (there’s great coverage of this event via Michael Sheridan’s essential CRS Coffeelands blog). We recently chatted with experts about the wide-reaching effects of rust at the 2013 SCAA Symposium; you’ll be seeing a lot more of this content as we continue to release video from the Symposium Colloquium series. For more rust learning, the recent posts on Peter Giuliano’s own Dymaxion Tumblr are another great place to get informed.

The FNC’s claims of having defeated rust in parts of Santander are indeed exciting, but the story goes on.

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