Colombia coffee production drops by one third


July 15, 2010 Updated May 22, 2009 at 11:01 PM CDT

Coffee production in Colombia, the world's number two producer of the beans, plunged 33 percent in the first four months of 2009, with exports sinking by 21 percent, officials said.

The National Coffeegrowers Federation, or Federacafe, said January-April production reached just 2.88 million 60-kilogram (132-pound) bags, compared with 4.25 million bags in the same period in 2008.

"The winter, low fertilization and the renovation of coffee plantations had a strong impact on production in the first months of the year," said Federacafe, which represents the Andean nation's half million coffeegrowers.

Colombia comes second only to Brazil in coffee production. Much of the country's northwest is cloaked in the crop, which produces a subtle brew sought after by many buyers.

But the federation stressed the outlook for 2009 remained encouraging and that despite the first months of the year they would "maintain a production projection of between 10.5 and 11.5 million bags for the year."

International sales slipped to 3.178 million bags, down 21 percent from the 4.041 million exported from January to April 2008.

Total Colombian production last year dipped nine percent to 11.5 million bags from 12.6 million bags in 2007, but total harvest revenues swelled to a record 1.953 billion dollars, according to official numbers.

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