Sunday, December 18, 2016

Coffee Belt Feels Climate Squeeze

Small-scale farmers who produce most of the world’s coffee beans face reductions in crop yield and quality as a result of rising temperatures and extreme weather.

Picking the climate-sensitive Arabica coffee beans in Colombia. (Image Credit: McKay Savage via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
As a famous old song says, they’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.  But if the findings of an Australian research institute are right, that will change over the next 30 years.

Although Brazil, the world’s biggest coffee producer and exporter, is expecting a record harvest  this year, its coffee crop − like that of 70 other producer countries − is now being threatened by climate change.

A report by the independent Climate Institute concludes that, by 2050, the world’s present growing area will have been halved by global warming.

It warns: “Climate change is already putting production and cost pressures on the supply of coffee in significant parts of the world’s ‘bean belt’ of coffee-producing countries.

“Increasing temperatures and extreme weather events will cut the area suitable for production by up to 50%, erode coffee quality, and increase coffee prices for consumers.”

Increased consumption
John Connor, CEO of the Sydney-based Climate Institute, says: “Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world every day.  World coffee production has more than trebled since the 1960s to supply the $US19 billion trade that continues to deliver a 5% increase in consumption annually.

“Yet between 80% and 90% of the world’s 25 million coffee farmers are smallholders, who are among those most exposed to climate change.

“They generally live and work in the ‘bean belt’, which comprises around 70 mostly developing countries, including Guatemala, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia and Indonesia.  Climate change threatens their world.”

The best temperature for coffee bushes is 18-22°C (64-72°F).  Above this, the plant grows more quickly and bears fruit too early, damaging the quality of the bean.

In the Central American countries of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, average temperatures have already increased by 1°C since the 1960s, while the average volume of rainfall has dropped by 15%.

Read more at Coffee Belt Feels Climate Squeeze

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