New study paints grim correlation between climate change and coffee

Researchers have found that half of the land currently suitable for Arabica coffee production will not be by 2050. Commissioned by World Coffee Research, the study identifies key climate zones where coffee flourishes, and shows how these zones will be affected in the next 35 years. The research found that the highest losses would be in hot, dry regions such as the northern Minas Gerais state of Brazil, parts of India, and Nicaragua – areas that currently give some of the highest Arabica yields. The study found that climate change would have the least effect on areas around the equator with seasonally constant temperatures, including parts of Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Indonesia. “Climate change for coffee is extremely serious,” said Researcher at International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the study’s lead author, Christian Bunn. “It’s a perennial crop, which means what you plant today will be in the ground still in 2050 — it will get the full impact of climate change.” Bunn said that while the research indicates that higher temperatures could mean higher altitude locations in East Africa, Colombia, Ecuador and Indonesia might become more suitable for coffee cultivation, Brazil was a concern. “They will have to be very productive to meet the demand, because Brazil, the current powerhouse, is going to see big losses,” said Bunn. The study offers a number of insights into how climate change will impact the elevations at which coffee can grow well. It found that the rise in temperature by 2050 would mean that, on average, land suitable for growing Arabica coffee would be 300 meters higher. “Overall, the Arabica market is extremely threatened,” said Bunn. “There is rising demand. In the future, we’ll need more area to grow coffee on, but we’re going to have less.” World Coffee Research is using the findings to locate sites for the International Multi-location Variety Trial, a comparative study of how 35 coffee varieties perform across the world in different climate zones. The data will be used to guide its coffee-breeding program, which hopes to adapt the coffee plant to produce higher yields, while maintaining quality.

“We can use the genetics of coffee to buy more time,” says Tim Schilling, Executive Director of World Coffee Research. “The information in this report will be invaluable as we work to create new, climate-resilient varieties tailored to individual climatic zones.”

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend