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Coffee rust, or coffee leaf rust, is a devastating disease which attacks coffee plants, often leading to the loss of entire crops and plantations. It is caused by Hemileia vastatrix, one of the rust fungi. Historically found in coffee-growing areas of Africa, the Near East, India, Asia, and Australia, the disease was discovered in 1970 to be widespread in Brazil, marking the first known spread to the Western Hemisphere. The disease was first reported in Kenya in 1861. By 1869 it had spread to Sri Lanka, and by the 1920s it was widely found across much of Africa and Asia. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, coffee rust did serious damage to the coffee plantations of Sri Lanka, Java and Malaya. This led to increased cultivation of alternative crops, notably tea in Sri Lanka, and rubber in all three places.
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