Climate change and coffee: Blog Action Day

by JulieCraves on October 15, 2009

The theme this year for Blog Action Day is climate change, and it is an extremely relevant topic for coffee. More people rely on agriculture for a living than any other occupation, with millions of them being small coffee growers. As an agricultural crop, coffee is, of course, profoundly affected by weather and climate.

Examining crop and climate models, experts at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have a prediction about the future of coffee in several Latin American countries: “without adaptation, the prospects are bleak.”  They go on to note adaptation must being now and,

“…planting shade trees today can buffer the impacts of climate change and buy a farmer a couple of extra decades to diversify production.”

I’ve written a number of posts on various aspects of climate change and coffee. I’ll provide a list here, as well as a list of other links and resources.

  • Coffee growing and climate change. A brief overview.
  • Coffee, climate change, and Rainforest Alliance. How Rainforest Alliance is evaluating criteria to choose which improve carbon storage and mitigate climate change as an add-on to their certification.
  • Shade coffee buffers against climate change. Research revealing that shade cover helps to moderate changes in microclimates on coffee farms. with the potential to mitigate climate change impacts.
  • Climate change and coffee pests. This posts discusses recent research on the coffee berry borer, and potential changes (increases) in this small beetle, one of the world’s worst coffee pests. Authors note that shade trees can help mitigate temperature increases and perhaps reduce the impact of this pest.
  • Coffee farms and carbon sequestration. How coffee farms can serve to mitigate climate change via carbon sequestration. Includes a number of estimates on how much carbon can be stored on coffee farms, and a list of additional reading.
  • Carbon credits with coffee: a how-to guide. Describes a document that outlines methods for verifying carbon stored on coffee farms and a mechanism for producers to receive payments for carbon credits.

Online articles and resources:

Peer-reviewed papers and technical reports:

  • “Predicted impact of climate change on coffee-supply chains.” International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). (PDF). Includes dramatic maps of shrinking land appropriate for coffee farming based on various climate scenarios.
  • Potential impacts of climate change on agriculture: case study of
    coffee production in Veracruz, Mexico
    . 2006. Gay, C. et al. 2006.
    Climate Change 79:259-288.
  • “Guidance on coffee carbon project development using the simplified agroforestry methodology.” Rainforest Alliance, July 2009 (PDF).
  • Towards a climate change adaptation strategy for coffee communities and ecosystems in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Mexico. Schroth,G., et al. 2009. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 14:605-625. (Abstract)
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Revised on September 12, 2018

Posted in Climate change,Coffee and the environment

Dina Haansley October 18, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Great post. I learned a lot more about the climate and coffee in general. I never knew the climate had such a huge impact on coffee. I guess it's no different than the impact it has on crops,fruits and veggies.

Michael November 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

Thanks for gathering so many great resources in one place. One other source of interest is CATIE, a tropical agriculture research center based in Costa Rica that has also done excellent work in forecasting the likely impacts of climate change on coffee productivity and quality. CATIE has collaborated increasingly on climate change work with CIAT, whose work in this area is groundbreaking.

I work for the development agency CRS, and we are supporting CIAT's efforts by helping to channel some of its excellent climate change research back to coffee farmers we are supporting in Mexico and Central America. With information about the likely impacts of climate change on coffee and other local crops, farmers can make better informed farming decisions. There is so much informtion out there, but it is not necessarily getting back to the farmers who will be the first ones to feel the impacts of climate change. Hope we can help to change that!

Julie November 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

Thanks, Michael. Feel free to drop me a line with new research, etc. that I can summarize for my readers.

Michael November 13, 2009 at 9:57 am

Great, thanks Julie. Will do. Meantime, here is a link to some excellent resources about and for farmers and scientists already collaborating in innovative ways to adapt to climate change. Hope it helps.


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