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Report: Climate change threatens coffee-growing regions

Report: Climate change threatens coffee-growing regions
January 28
12:47 2022

A research by Plos One, a scientific journal, says parts of the world suitable for growing coffee, cashews and avocados will change as global temperatures continue to rise.

The research published on January 26 said key coffee regions in Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam and Colombia will all “drastically decrease” by around 50 percent  by 2050.

However, the authors said while coffee is the most vulnerable to climate change, suitable areas for cashews and avocados will increase but might not be located in current sites of production.

The study said there would be a reduction of 76 percent in Brazil’s most suitable areas for coffee. In Colombia it would shrink by 63 percent while some areas in regions currently producing will become more suitable, including Argentina, South Africa, China and New Zealand among others.

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The study further looked at how rising temperatures and changing rates of precipitation will impact the three crops over the next 30 years as well as the influence of land and soil characteristics on production of these crops.

“Changes in temperature will directly affect the climate suitability of growing regions for crops and can therefore cause shifts in production regions or call for adaptation measures in agricultural management, such as more heat or drought tolerant varieties,” the research said. 

“For coffee arabica, a crop highly sensitive to climate change, current and future climate suitability has been studied extensively on global and regional scales that have recently been reviewed.  According to these studies, strong reductions in climate suitability are expected for coffee in most current growing regions.

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“Global biophysical modelling of current and future suitability of coffee, cashew and avocado is therefore essential to take informed decisions in long-term agricultural planning with the aim of maintaining farmers’ livelihoods and of fostering the sustainable use of natural resources.

“Compared to cashew and avocado, climate change has the highest negative impact on currently suitable coffee growing regions because of its greater susceptibility to high temperatures. While cashew suitability is also negatively affected by rising temperatures in certain regions, avocado is more affected by changes in precipitation (both negatively and positively).”

According to the BBC, authors of the research advise that greater efforts must be made to help farmers adapt.

However, they are concerned that while the rise in temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns might make some areas more suitable for crops like cashew and avocado, a major shift to develop these crops in new regions might see more forests converted to farmland or a rise of invasive species.

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Roman Grüter, the lead author from Zurich University of Applied Sciences, said: “The key message for those that are in the main producing regions today is that farming systems have to adapt to the changing conditions. 

“If there is already coffee grown in a new area where it is just about possible with some management options, it might get easier or might be possible to expand but it doesn’t mean that we will get perfect coffee growing regions within 10 years or so.

“In regions that might get more suitable for growing those crops, it is important to make sure that there are no negative environmental impacts such as deforestation,

“In all of these changes, the local stakeholders, the local communities have to get involved in these changing processes. It should be really participatory.”

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This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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