USAID intends to work with Texas A&M to step up research on rust-resistant coffee varieties and help Latin America better monitor and respond to the fungus. The U.S. already collaborates with some of the coffee companies and other international organizations to finance replanting of different varieties of trees.
The effort is part of the Obama administration's Feed the Future program, which aims to rid the world of extreme poverty through agricultural development and improved nutrition.
While the effort has helped hungry children around the globe, "we're at risk of backtracking because of coffee rust," Shah says.
Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MCJalonick