(Article As Written by: Cathie Anderson, Sacramento Bee)
The indefatigable Pete Rogers will start his campaign against coffee rust by planting 1 million disease-resistant coffee trees this year on 600 farms in Mexico. The inadequacy of this first salvo is not lost on him.
Rogers is the executive who travels the globe on behalf of Lincoln’s Rogers Family Coffee Co., finding subsistence coffee farmers and buying the green beans that the company roasts and sells under brand names such as San Francisco Bay, Fairwinds, Organic Coffee Co. and Jerusalem Kosher. Rogers’ job isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. He frequently sleeps rough on foreign soil and eats plenty of meals most Americans wouldn’t consider touching.
His work has paid off, however, for Rogers and for subsistence farmers. In Mexico, for instance, he and the company’s agronomy team have coached thousands of farmers on how to increase their yield of coffee beans by as much as 10 times. Coffee rust, however, laid waste to every gain that Rogers made. The disease gets its name from the powdery, orange-red pustules that first form on the underside of tree leaves. Eventually, all the leaves fall off, and the denuded tree dies within a few years...