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It may be harder to grow coffee as climate change continues, study warns

Top coffee growing locations, including Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia and Colombia, are under threat from climate change, a new study warns

Experts from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, have combined global climate models with soil, slope and pH data necessary for common crops. They examined the potential future crop yields of some of the most important consumer products.

These include arabica, the dominant coffee variety, as well as avocado and cashews, which will significantly reduce the land available to grow them.

In countries where they are most grown, including Brazil and Colombia, suitable land could be halved by 2050, even under moderate climate change scenarios.

Researchers say it’s not all bad news, as new areas will become suitable for growing coffee, including parts of the southern US if temperatures rise 4.5F.

The Paris climate accord calls for action to prevent temperatures from rising no more than 2.7 F above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

Achieving this goal, say the researchers behind this study, could prevent a widespread reduction, but suggest efforts should be made to mitigate climate change.

“Adaptation measures could be, for example, breeding efforts for varieties that are better adapted to higher temperatures or drought and in the case of coffee, replacing arabica with robusta coffee in certain regions,” the authors wrote.

Top coffee growing locations, including Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia and Colombia, are under threat from climate change, a new study warns

Top coffee growing locations, including Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia and Colombia, are under threat from climate change, a new study warns

Map to show the current regions where coffee cultivation is suitable and how suitable each area is
Map to show regions where coffee growing is suitable and how suitable each area will be in 2050 based on a temperature increase of 8.1F

Map to show regions where coffee cultivation is currently suitable (left) and how suitable each area will be in 2050 based on a temperature increase of 8.1F (right)

Roman Grüter and colleagues looked at coffee, cashew nuts and avocados because they are important crops for consumers and for tropical small-scale farmers.

Previous studies on these crops have failed to take into account land and soil features that may also affect their suitability for cultivation, and none have examined how cashew and avocado growth will be affected on a global scale.

To tackle the problem, the team combined projections of climate change and soil factors to see how suitable different regions will be to grow by 2050.

They found that between now and 2050 some regions will become more suitable for each of the three crops and some will become less suitable.

Roman Grüter and colleagues looked at coffee, cashews and avocados as important crops for consumers and tropical smallholder farmers

Roman Grüter and colleagues looked at coffee, cashews and avocados as important crops for consumers and tropical smallholder farmers

Roman Grüter and colleagues looked at coffee, cashews and avocados as important crops for consumers and tropical smallholder farmers

Coffee is the most sensitive of the three crops they studied, ahead of avocado or cashew nuts, with a decline in suitability in all major production regions.

This is because the crop is very sensitive to climate change, and areas at low latitude and low altitude are most affected as temperatures rise.

In fact, some changes are already underway, with parts of the world already struggling to grow coffee.

The team predicts a future where coffee will become a luxury commodity, unaffordable for most people, sold to those who can afford it rather than an everyday drink.

Before that happens, if the climate continues to warm, parts of East Africa and South America that are ‘outside the growing area’ could become suitable for growing coffee.

Coffee is the most susceptible of the three crops they studied, ahead of avocado or cashews, with a decline in suitability in all major producing regions

Coffee is the most susceptible of the three crops they studied, ahead of avocado or cashews, with a decline in suitability in all major producing regions

Coffee is the most susceptible of the three crops they studied, ahead of avocado or cashews, with a decline in suitability in all major producing regions

Climate change is making it harder to get a good cup of COFFEE

Coffee may become duller in the future as rising temperatures due to climate change could lead to less intense bean varieties, scientists warn.

A team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has created computer simulations to investigate the effects of ‘climatic’ factors on coffee growing areas in Ethiopia, the largest producer in Africa.

They found that changes in temperature, rainfall and length of seasons could make quality and rich-tasting beans scarcer, but soft beans more abundant.

Because growers get more out of the higher quality versions than the everyday varieties, they may have to make regular coffee more expensive to accommodate the change.

They are generally at higher elevations or at the latitudes of the growing areas, so as the temperature rises, the growing area will shift.

In addition to finding temperature and rainfall, the team also found that soil requirements, as well as existing coffee suitability, affected areas likely to become suitable in the future.

They said this was important to consider when planning new coffee plantations in areas where coffee may not be adapted to grow at present but could be in the future.

It was also important to ensure there would be no adverse environmental impacts if coffee were introduced to a new area, such as damage to native biomes.

New areas are expected to come within the suitability of coffee cultivation by 2050.

“For example, the art of China, Argentina and the US is likely to become more suitable for coffee cultivation, just as Brazil and Colombia see their countries become less suitable,” the authors wrote.

“It is likely that many of these changes are now ‘locked in’ for at least the rest of this century, despite the disappointingly slow response of world leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

They said it would be important for society to adapt to the ongoing changes in the tropics, including shifting the cultivation of specific crops to different regions.

‘However, it seems likely that whatever mitigation measures are taken, many tropical crops will become scarcer and therefore more expensive in the future.

“In fact, in terms of coffee, it could turn from a cheap everyday drink to a prized treat to savor on special occasions, rather like a fine wine.”

For cashews, highly suitable regions are expected to decline in a number of key producing countries, including India, Ivory Coast and Benin.

Suitable areas for avocados will also decline for some major producers, such as the Dominican Republic, Peru and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, areas suitable for all three crops could expand at higher elevations and latitudes, especially for cashews and avocados.

Other mitigation techniques, including growing new varieties of coffee, avocado and cashews to tolerate higher temperatures and less water, may be essential.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

BENEFITS OF DRINKING COFFEE

Caffeine has been found to be safe for consumption in doses up to 400 mg per day for the general population.

Studies suggest it may have several health benefits, including fighting liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Research has even suggested it could even help people live longer.

It is the world’s most consumed stimulant and reports show that it can increase daily energy expenditure by about five percent.

Researchers have said that combining two to four cups of coffee a day with regular exercise would be even more effective for weight maintenance.

A 2015 study found that just a few cups a day can help millions of dieters stay fit once they reach their desired weight.

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