(QCOSTARICA) The Congreso Nacional Cafetalero (National Coffee Congress of Costa Rica) earlier this month ruled to maintain the ban on cultivation of the robusta coffee bean, despite needed attempts to counter falling production of Arabica.
Growers in Costa Rica are interested in reintroducing the bean that is cheaper, bitter and loaded with more caffeine, but stronger and more productive than Arabica.
However, those in disagreement with the cultivation of the Robusta bean argue that it threatens the prestige of Costa Rica coffee producers, a country that is the fourteenth coffee producer in the world, known for its high quality Arabica.
Although Robusta and Arabica are are climate sensitive, the latter is affected greater by rising temperatures and pests, as well as changes in coffee consumption increases and in market dynamics.
Costa Rica outlawed the cultivation of Robusta in 1988, promoting the production of Arabica.
The proposal to amend the decree against Robusta had support from more than half of the Congress, but did not reach the required two-thirds majority, according to Jose Manuel Hernandez, head of the Chamber of Costa Rican Coffee Roasters, and Ricardo Seevers, a former president of the Instituto del Café de Costa Rica (Icafé).
Discovered in Ethiopia and now grown largely in Latin America, Africa and Asia, the Coffea Arabica bean has long dominated production and currently is about 60 percent of the world’s coffee.
Coffee production in the country began in 1779 in the Meseta Central (Central Region) which had ideal soil and climate conditions for coffee plantations. Production in the country relies on cheap, seasonal labor: Nicaraguan immigrants are often employed on these plantations.
Costa Rican coffee beans are considered among the best in the world.