For the past two years news agencies have been reporting the trouble, climate change has been stirring into the coffee industry.
Long droughts provoked by El Niño weather system (An irregular and complex climatic change series that has been affecting equatorial Pacific region and around ever few years. It is characterized by the arrival of uncommonly warm and nutrient deficient water off Northern Peru and Ecuador, especially towards the end of December. The effects of El Nino include reversed wind patterns across the Pacific, drought in Australasia and out of season heavy rains in South America have been damaging crops around the world hence causing rise in the bean prices.
Coffee is not the only climate sensitive species in the question here. Increasing minimum or nighttime temperatures and very high daytime temperatures have been forcing many plants and animal species to go extinct. Unless ways get discovered to lighten up harsh weather effects on coffee, the future for coffee and many other crops doesn’t look bright.
Out of the two widely popular coffee bean types, Arabica and Robusta, the former gains more favor and thus price premiums, due to the fineness of the quality. Arabica also accounts for most of the coffee production worldwide, most of which is grown in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya, the highland tropics of Africa, typically between 1000 and 2300 meters above sea level.
Optimum temperature range for the coffee plants is between 18°C to 21°C, thus for every single degree rise in temperature an annual production loss of 137 kg per hectare is estimated, as the metabolism of the plants begins to get affected outside of the optimum temperature range.
The above estimate refers to the roughly 60% of the average smallholder farmer’s current production in Tanzania. Tanzania has been used as a reference point for a reason that it has many important climate and yield datasets which are often either not recorded or are afterwards lost. It is also similar to many other African nations in terms of its coffee production.
Coffee is Tanzania’s most important export crop and yield is almost 50%lower than it used to be back in 10 960s. Decrease, if calculated for the future, looks critically low level for Tanzania.
The decline in coffee production has other causes too besides temperature rise. These include shrinking land availability and resources, increasing population and the sensitivity of Arabica.
Look elsewhere Tanzania and similar patterns follow. The Arabica growing regions of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Kenya all are facing temperature rise issue. Even within each region, there are specific areas that support coffee growth that calls for the site-specific adaptation strategies to be implemented.
Because coffee varieties have adapted to certain climate, global warming is presenting a global threat to coffee production with even Indian coffee yield declining by nearly 30 percent from 2002 to 2011.
As the production at the farms of Africa, Latin America, India and Indonesia decrease, the effects ultimately get delivered to consumer market all over the world. The prices of the coffee grinds by many brands have increased by as much as 25% or more from 2010-11 as the supplies get tight and wholesale prices hit high. As the coffee supply tapers off, we must realize as humans that it is but a single aftereffect of still going-on climate change and should be a wake-up call for all of us.