If you’ve ever wondered how coffee climates have changed, you’ve come to the right place. Read this article to learn about recent extremes in coffee climate and the impact of drought and agroforestry. It will also give you an idea of how climate change has affected coffee growing. But before we get too carried away, it’s important to note that coffee is a high-water-demand crop. It requires 39 gallons of water to grow just one cup of coffee.
Recent extremes in coffee climate
The coffee climate has been subjected to recent extremes, including droughts and floods. In 2015, for example, coffee production fell by more than 50 percent in Tanzania, due to the unseasonal rains that have affected plantations. The rains also brought with them diseases that have destroyed entire coffee plantations. For example, a fungus known as Hemileia vastatrix devastated coffee plantations in Central and South America. This fungus spread quickly over vast areas of the region, and was more likely to germinate when conditions were moist.
Although the coffee climate has always been variable in these regions, recent extremes have made the coffee climate in these areas even more difficult. In such regions, rain is scarce, so coffee growers need reliable weather patterns. Additionally, the coffee cherries must be dried before roasting. Sunlight is a key source of moisture for drying cherries.
In Brazil, the majority of coffee farms are family-run or operated by low-income farmers. This makes them less resistant to climate changes, and shifts in coffee climatic suitability can cause a sharp decline in incomes and even lead farmers to abandon coffee production altogether. Further, there is no comprehensive study on climate change impacts on coffee yields in Brazil, so the impact of this change on coffee production is still uncertain.
The main coffee producing regions are Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, and Indonesia. All of these countries are already suffering from the effects of climate change, and it is expected that the coffee climate will become even more difficult in the future. Rising temperatures and extreme rains could cause droughts and floods, which will make coffee farming more difficult in these regions. Furthermore, rising temperatures will reduce the available area for coffee growing by 50 percent by 2050.
The study also evaluated the relative climate risk in coffee producing regions in Brazil. It used three factors to measure climate risk: hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. The risk level for a community depends on the intersection of these factors. If the level of risk is high, it means the community is likely to experience significant losses to its well-being. Steps to reduce climate risk include reducing exposure and increasing a community’s capacity to adapt to the changing environment.
A transition to organic farming reduces exposure to climate risk, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem of increased demand. Moreover, it does nothing to help the coffee industry meet the ever-growing demand. By focusing on adaptation and reducing the industry’s vulnerability, the coffee industry can reshape itself in a more sustainable way and protect the livelihoods of coffee producers.
In addition to the challenges posed by climate change, coffee companies must address the challenges of smallholder poverty. The coffee industry is heavily concentrated in a small number of mega-corporations, mostly in the developed world.
Impacts of agroforestry
Agroforestry is a sustainable farming method that can help mitigate the effects of climate change on coffee production. It can also help cool the surrounding air. This method can help preserve up to three-quarters of Earth’s coffee-growing area. Nestle has invested in agroforestry planting through its Nespresso brand and has partnered with coffee farmers to help them create sustainable agroforestry systems. However, most coffee plantations continue to depend on traditional farming methods and full-sun exposure.
Despite the challenges presented by climate change, agroforestry is a sustainable alternative to conventional coffee and cocoa production in the region. Approximately 72% of coffee-growing areas will be suitable for more than 30 tree species by 2050. This means that plantations will need to adapt their management practices to accommodate these more diverse tree species. As of now, most of these species are underutilised and in low densities on coffee plantations.
The benefits of agroforestry are numerous. The increased biodiversity of agroforestry can help improve the productivity of the crop. Moreover, it can improve soil quality, reduce abiotic stress, and improve microclimate conditions. In addition, the presence of agroforestry trees helps facilitate the performance of understory crops.
Increasing the shade-cover in coffee forests is an effective method to mitigate the effects of climate change. By increasing shade-cover, agroforestry systems can maintain up to 75 percent of the current coffee-growing area in 2050. The study also shows that the use of agroforestry systems in coffee production can increase the suitability of coffee by up to 0.45 in 2050.
Agroforestry projects can be integrated into larger networks and help coffee farmers diversify their incomes. In the municipality of Apui, for example, the Apui agroforestry coffee project is part of the larger Cidades Florestais project, developed by Idesam with the Amazon Fund. This program aims to develop agroforestry systems for coffee and other plants in the area. The project is expected to integrate 200 family farms in the next three years.
Coffee’s natural environment is full of shade trees, which reduces the need for chemical sprays to control pests. These trees also help prevent coffee rust, which is caused by a type of mite that lives in forests. Certain species of snails and mites also help reduce coffee rust. These insects are a part of a diversified system and in monoculture coffee plantations these animals are lacking.
In this study, the climate changes that will impact coffee production were simulated using 19 different Global Circulation Models. The simulations were done using the Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 climate scenario, which is the most plausible climate scenario for the future. The projected changes in temperature are 1.3 degC warmer during the coldest months of the year and two deg warmer in the warmest months of the year. The amount of precipitation will decrease by 60 mm.