Colombia must replant coffee to maintain output

Colombia needs to replace at least 90,000 hectares of coffee trees, some 10 percent of its crop, annually to keep production above 14 million 60-kg sacks per year, the head of the coffee growers' federation said on Wednesday.

The Andean nation, which is the world's top producer of washed arabica, produced 14.23 million bags last year, the highest in 23 years, despite El Nino drought and a 45-day truckers strike.

This year output could reach 14.5 million bags, growers' federation head Roberto Velez told reporters, but new trees and a productivity increase to 21 bags per hectare are necessary.

"What's clear is that it's imperative that the country does a renovation of at least 90,000 hectares to maintain these production levels," he said.

That level of tree replacements will cost between $23 million and $27 million, Velez said.

The country replaced 85,000 hectares of trees last year. There are around 930,000 hectares of coffee trees in Colombia.


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