High Temperature, Climatic Changes to Affect Coffee Output

Mar 13th, 2014 | By | Category: Agriculture, Development and Climate Change, News, Vulnerability

1363710200-1956Business Standard: Changing climatic conditions and rising global temperatures is likely to affect world coffee production in the coming years. The threat is significantly higher in arabica coffee, which requires specific ecological and meteorological conditions in order to produce quality beans, said theInternational Coffee Organisation (ICO).

Arabica coffee requires an optimum mean temperature range of 15 to 23 degrees Celsius. “A sustained rise in global temperatures could severely reduce the available growing regions for coffee. Other climatic factors can also negatively affect productivity, including rainfall, soil composition and frequency of pest and disease infestations,” ICO said in its latest report.

The report titled ‘World Coffee Trade (1963-2013): A review of the markets, challenges and opportunities facing the sector’, was released at the 112th session of the International Coffee Council in London last week.

The ICO report quoted a 2012 study by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens in the UK, which analysed the potential effects of climate change on wild indigenous arabica growth in Ethiopia. In the worst case scenarios, optimal available land for arabica production could disappear entirely by 2080, it concluded.

As environmental factors increase the probability of short-term supply shocks, it is likely the price swings will continue, ICO said.

There are generally two main interrelated policy responses to climate change — mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation involves reducing the impact of one’s activities on the climate, while adaptation is lowering one’s vulnerability to climatic changes.

According to the International Trade Centre, although potential actions can be taken along the coffee chain to reduce emissions, the economic incentives are not yet strong enough to encourage significant changes. In terms of adaptation, it must be noted that small coffee farmers are both among the most vulnerable to changes in the climate and the least able to meet these.

However, recent initiatives such as Coffee & Climate are increasing the awareness about the threats from changing climatic conditions and disseminating information on how to prepare against this increasing risk, the ICO report said.

“In many countries, however, cultivatable land is shrinking and production costs are rising, suggesting many producers may be reaching their saturation point. Barring the emergence of a new major producer, which seems unlikely, production will struggle to maintain such a high growth rate in the near future,” ICO said. Nonetheless, in terms of the global coffee balance, the general outlook seems positive. Between 1990 and 2012, world output increased by about 50 per cent, mostly due to the emergence of Vietnam as a major producer. In the 2012-13 crop year, world production reached 145.1 million bags, the largest on record.  With the exception of Africa, all coffee-growing regions recorded a steady growth in production.

Moreover, climate change could also have a negative impact on production in many countries unless urgent research is carried out on adaptation measures, the ICO cautioned.

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