For many, mornings are about an early start to the day, to rev it up. To a majority of us, mornings are about beginning early to end well. But an important facet that transpires after the alarm buzzes off and before we step out is that all-important cup of coffee.
You just can’t do without a piping hot cup of coffee to warm you up before you face the heat of the day, isn’t it?
In fact, so incessant is the need for a desirous cup of coffee that when one doesn’t get to smell the instant aroma of a warm hot brew, no matter how many highs the day brings, there’s an inkling of missing out of some early morning thrill.
But while coffee signifies a bright start and a dose of every-day positivity, in Columbia, it is quite simply- a way of life. There’s more coffee produced in Columbia, each year, every decade, for consistently in the last half century than there is snow in the upper reaches of the Himalayas.
But now, there seems to have emerged in the coffee-drinking, coffee-producing paradise, a strange epidemic that stands to threaten the very way in which the world consumes its favourite beverage.
Implicit in the heart of Bogota since the 1960s has been a warning that was perhaps commonly found at different nooks and corners of the city, “don’t bring plant materials here from abroad; coffee rust is the enemy”.
So what exactly is coffee rust and why does it pose such a threat after all?
Here’s a simple explanation. Quite similar to that good old piece of iron which upon catching rust, leads to corrosion- whether in every-day conventions or articles used in manufacturing or during an industrial process- affecting the utility of the iron, coffee rust is the nadir that threatens to cripple one of the world’s consummate drinking habits.
But for Columbia, the concern regarding coffee rust is a significant one. Only last year, upon the 2016-end estimates, coffee exports from Colombia to the world stood at a whopping $2.4 billion. Often, in the strands of commerce, the bilateral trade between two nations stands several amounts shy of this mammoth figure.
So it is but pertinent that Colombia gets rid of what is now believed to be a rampantly growing epidemic. So if Colombia allows rust to take hold in its dominion, this invariably leads to the dwindling of the coffee supply for effectively, more than half of the globe.
It is believed that for the past decade, farmers engaged in harvesting of the said commodity have found to their utter dismay, the unwanted growth of a powdery substance which completely mows down the growth of trees when rust grows on it. The tree, once infested by rust produces a thin, dark brown powder that seems to resemble iron rust.
As a result of the infestation, the tree and leaves completely lose all vitality which effectively means that no beans can be rendered from thereon. Apparently, during the course of the 19th century, Sri Lanka and Philippines had been afflicted by a similar problem.
But thankfully, along came a solution to this crisis that promised cushioning from what threatened to become a malaise. In the form of Cenicafe- a research facility developed in Colombia to assist farmers in the fight against coffee rust, solutions were sought against the biggest thorn in the path of Colombia’s richest item of export. Soon, Cenicafe’s extensive research work came to the rescue of protecting both, the Coffea Arabica and the Coffea Canephora.
Interestingly, it was during this time that Colombian researchers took a measured decision to breed variants of the existing flavors of coffee-already grown and produced- so that in the case of there being a damage to the existing types- the world’s coffee demands could be catered to. Thus, one finds that upon making timely scientific and research-based intervention, a common consumption habit that stood threatened in front of a harrowing challenge- was accurately countered.