Coffee crops across Costa Rica and Central America have been recently devastated by a fungus known as “leaf rust” that is destroying and withering coffee trees. Recently, agricultural ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic met to devise a plan, and agreed to give this problem the highest priority.

The plan that was agreed on will consolidate the combined efforts of various government agencies, and will ask for the assistance of international agencies if it is deemed necessary. The plan should be approved by mid-March.

The fungus has already affected at least 50 percent of crops within the Central America region, not only diminishing a product that is in constant world-wide demand, but that is also directly responsible for the well being of hundreds of thousands of families. Regional losses have tallied to around 20 percent for the 2012-2013 harvest season, and are expected to cost around $500 million. The Costa Rican Agriculture and Livestock minister, Gloria Abraham, reported that the ‘leaf rust’ has affected 68% of the country’s crops thus far. The total affected area is 60,441 hectares, of which about 26.3 has seen serious damage, 48% has moderate damage, and 25.6% are experiencing mild problems for the time being.

The fungus has also had reported outbreaks in Mexico and Colombia, though it is not currently as severe. Costa Rica and Honduras have declared states of emergency.