A “devastating” disease is spreading across Central American coffee plantations and threatening global coffee supply, causing billions of dollars of damage, and costing millions of workers their jobs, NPR reports.
Known as coffee rust leaf disease, or coffee rust, the disease is caused by fungus Hemileia vastatrix, and has no known cure. While not killing plants outright, the disease chokes them of essential nutrients, causing a dramatic drop in yields. First symptoms include pale-yellow spots on leaves’ upper surfaces, which then expand into larger rings, turning bright orange, red, then finally brown. Leaves then usually die within a few years.