A new climate study predicts half of the land currently suitable for arabica will not sustain the crop by 2050.
World Coffee Research highlighted the study published in Plos One, an open access science journal. The report Multiclass Classification of Agro-Ecological Zones for Arabica Coffee: An Improved Understanding of the Impacts of Climate Change predicts not all coffee climates will be harmed. Regions nearest the equator that are cooler with seasonally constant temperatures (Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Indonesia) “will be least affected by climate change.”
The greatest loss will be in dry regions in India, Nicaragua, and Brazil where nearly 80% of the land will become unsuitable for coffee.
In addition to an analysis of coffee zones the report identified elevations where coffee can provide good yields. The median elevation to protect the crop will increase 300 meters but hot, wet zones in Mexico, for example, will require growers to plant their trees at elevations 500 meters higher than currently planted.
Coffee itself will have to evolve to be more tolerant of heat and less demanding of water during the next 35 years.
Co-author Dr. Peter Läderach said that “previous work only indicated if coffee would become more or less suitable. This information will help to guide the adaption process.”
“Climate change for coffee is extremely serious,” says Christian Bunn, the study’s lead author, a researcher for the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). “It’s a perennial crop, which means what you plant today will be in the ground still in 2050—it will get the full impact of climate change.” Focusing on adapting the coffee plant itself is one of the strategies that researchers are using to plan for a future in which coffee is threatened.
World Coffee Research commissioned the study and is using the findings to locate sites for the International Multi-location Variety Trial, a comparative study of how 35 coffee varieties perform across the world in different climate zones.
Learn more: www.worldcoffeeresearch.org