Amongst its many vibrant offerings, one of the most popular things the country of Colombia is known for is coffee. Enthusiasts know it to be one of the leading coffee suppliers in the world, while its people are known to be coffee connoisseurs themselves. One of the leading producers of coffee around the world is set to lose about 8% of its production in the next couple of decades, thanks to climate change.
A recent study conducted by a team at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found that while climate change may have some positive impact on coffee production in some areas of Colombia, it will be at the cost of a decrease in production in other regions.
Colombia, home to a varied topography such as the Andes mountains and the Amazon basin, is the world’s largest producer of Arabica beans. This also earns it the position of the third-largest coffee producer overall. Coffee is grown across the country in various regions and has persevered in the face of many issues affecting the yield.
The new study implemented a dynamic panel model across 521 municipalities and their coffee yield. This was used to forecast the yield for the period between 2041 to 2060, given the impending climate change and increase in temperature. The research found that lower altitude coffee growing and yield will be most and soon affected by climate change, whereas higher altitude will experience better yield in the forecast years.
The overall national productivity is expected to increase by 7.6%, with productivity in higher altitudes rising by 16.7%. The upset will be caused by an 8.16% decrease in the yield in low-lying regions. By consequence, the same fate can be expected of even higher areas.
“Colombia is not going to experience reduced productivity overall. But when we look into the impact across municipalities, we see many differences that get lost in the national average. That has important implications for coffee growers who live in one municipality versus another,” said lead author Federico Ceballos-Sierra.“Low-altitude municipalities will be negatively affected by climate change, and thousands of growers and their families in these areas will see their livelihood jeopardized because productivity is likely to fall below their breakeven point by mid-century.”
Low-lying areas, owing to climate change, are also facing a more aggressive threat of pests, like the coffee bean borer, as compared to previous years. The study recommends that growers who can be affected must be provided aid by coffee institutions and the government to shift to more sustainable crops. While relocation to better lands is an option, it may not be feasible and accessible to everyone, especially the smallholder coffee growers, which are about 550,000 in numbers.
Sandy Dall’Erba, co-author of this study says, “Our research presents what we anticipate will happen 20 to 40 years from now, given current conditions and practices. Future studies can look into different adaptation strategies and their costs, and evaluate which options are best. Beyond the 40-year horizon, we focus on, the prospects might be grimmer without adaptation. Production cannot keep moving to higher levels. Indeed, no mountain top is above 5,800 meters (18,000 feet) in Colombia.”
There have been previous studies that point out the relation between climate change and coffee cultivation in Colombia. However, most of the results suggest that the overall yield is set to drop. Drawing conclusions from data across various regions, the findings of this study will be published in the Agricultural Systems journal.
I am a simple writer who wishes to use her skill to create more awareness about the planet that offers us life.