Global warming threatens coffee lovers and farmers

An alert to all coffee lovers! Well known fact is that coffee is a climate-sensitive crop. But there is an influence on the daily brew from the first global evidence that increasing minimum, or night-time, temperatures. World’s coffee supply may be in danger owing to climate change.

The world’s biggest coffee-producing nation is Brazil. Here, the effects of warming temperatures are already being felt in some communities. Growing of the Arabica coffee plant, staple of daily caffeine fixes and economic lifeline for millions of small farmers, is in danger from climate change as rising temperatures and new rainfall patterns limit the areas where it can be grown, researchers have warned. Climate change will halve or as much as by 88% the area suitable for coffee production by 2050.

In the journal of National Academy of Sciences it is mentioned that Latin America is the world’s largest coffee-producing region. Coffee growing areas in Asia and Africa may be similarly hit, the researchers.
The predictions are based on a rise in global temperatures of 2.6 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050.

200 countries have pledged to keep temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by curbing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, under the 2015 Paris climate deal. But the fear of some people is that this target will not be met.

Taylor Ricketts, co-author of the study and director of the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont said that Coffee is grown by about 25 million farmers in more than 60 countries, with probably 100 million people involved in its production – most of them are rural and poor.

There’s more at stake here than my nice espresso in New York or Paris going to get more expensive. It threatens the primary livelihood of millions of people who are already vulnerable. – Ricketts told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Dr Peter Läderach, a CCAFS climate change specialist and co-author of the report, said that:
In Brazil, they produce coffee on the plains and don’t have any mountains so they can’t move up. If you don’t have good, rigorous laws in place, people are just going to start going up and chopping down the forest, which would then jeopardise all the downstream benefits that people receive, such as water and carbon sequestration.

What they would have to do is look for adaptation strategies. This study shows that we urgently need to start breeding new varieties and adapting growing practices, like putting in shade to decrease temperatures. But the problem in Brazil is it is very mechanised and if you put trees there, they won’t be able to bring the machines in.

The reduction in yields naturally is not absolutely due to minimum temperature increases. All aspects of climate change variables play a role but rising minimum temperatures certainly have the larger impact.

High quality coffee grows in hilly regions where it is exposed to cooler air. As the planet is heating up coffee plants are to be cultivated in mountainous regions, there is less land to cultivate them.

Getting coffee cultivation right is really important to conserving nature and developing rural communities. Aside from being everybody’s favourite morning thing to do, it’s got these big ramifications. – said Ricketts.

Coffee farmers can rescue their plants from a brewing climate by creating shade for them. So there is a need to protect the forests, hedgerows and other areas that produce pollinating bees with flowers and nesting sites.

Lead author Pablo Imbach of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) said “If there are bees in the coffee plots, they are very efficient and very good at pollinating, so productivity increases and also berry weight.”

Bees that pollinate the coffee can spread to cooler areas north or south of the tropics, as well as uphill which is not similar to coffee plants.

The trick is to see them coming so there’s time to adapt. –Ricketts stated.

These hard numbers encourage the public and private-sectors to fund in climate change adaptation tactics that will better hearten this important industry and the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers who depend on it.
“If you love coffee in your country that much, you need to help us survive to grow it for you!”

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