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Severe weather threatens the poorest coffee growers

Severe weather threatens the poorest coffee growers

Farmers around the world must adapt to climate change. Producers of the finest coffee are among the hardest hit.

Dried corn plant after a drought in Southern Africa. Climate change particularly affects small farmers in the poorest parts of the world. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters / NTB

  • The average temperature is rising all over the world. It affects plants and animals.
  • In many regions, food production is becoming more difficult.
  • Agriculture contributes to climate change and could be one of the biggest victims.
  • There is still a lot of uncertainty associated with how adaptive nature will be to changes.

What are the challenges posed by climate change?

By 2050, global food production must increase by nearly 50 percent. It is imperative that 9 billion people have access to food, Warns the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO.

In a report from 2019, the FAO wrote that climate change will make this task more difficult. It’s not just global warming that can lead to droughts. Extreme weather could also mean more flooding. We should expect that plants will be exposed to more diseases, that many species will become extinct and that it will be impossible to grow larger areas.

At the same time, agriculture accounts for about a quarter of the emissions that lead to climate change. Agricultural machinery emits a lot of greenhouse gases, especially cattle rape and dance parties on a large scale, and many farmers are to blame for large-scale deforestation.

Falafel is made from chickpeas and beans. In the Middle East, it is a popular dish. Photo: Hussain Malla, AP / NTB

What products have been affected?

the magazine Rolling rock I recently got an overview of what climate change means for food production. The magazine focused on important products such as rice, wheat, and chickpeas.

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Chickpea was one of the first plants humans began to grow. Today, it is the most important source of protein for a fifth of the world’s population. Chickpeas and falafel, for example, are made from these legumes. It is also used in animal feed. But plants are highly vulnerable to climate change, especially drought.

Wheat is very susceptible to drought. Therefore, climate change could reduce production. Last year, wheat crops in the United Kingdom were the worst since the 1980s. Watchman He wrote that because of the inclement weather. Climate change means not only warmer weather, but more rain and more winds.

Rice is another exposed product. For half of the world’s population, rice is the most important food. Both droughts and torrential rains can be a problem in planting. Eighty percent of the world’s rice is grown on small family farms that do not have the resources to restructure production.

Large farms have the resources to reorganize production, and family farms cannot do this.

Growing rice on small farms is hard work. Here are a farmer grown in Thailand. Photo: Chaiwat Subpresum, Reuters / NTB

What is the relationship of climate change to morning coffee?

For most Europeans, coffee is associated with comfort. Morning coffee is indispensable for many.

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In South America and Africa, an estimated 25 million farmers live by growing coffee. They can get in big trouble. This is especially true for those who grow the most luxurious and expensive coffees. By 2050, researchers said that half of the area used to grow high-quality coffee beans will be unusable. According to the BBC This is due to higher temperatures and changes in precipitation. Today, the most popular coffee bean is Arabica. It is not particularly suitable in warmer climates.

The Russians hope to put the vast areas in the east of the country under the plow, only the climate permits. Foto: Ilya Naymushin, Reuters / NTB

Are there just losers here?

No, farmers in the cooler climates of the North can stand out as winners. This is especially true of farmers in the landscapes of the Russian steppe. Books last year New York times On how to put the forests, steppes and swamps of eastern Russia under the plow.

The newspaper writes that Russia hopes to become one of the world’s largest food producers, thanks to warmer temperatures and a longer growing season.

In western Canada, some farmers hope to move their wine production northward from California.

He writes that Norwegian farmers can also get access to new opportunities The Norwegian Environment Agency on its website: “At the same time, a milder climate with more rainfall and a longer growing season could lead to positive changes with increased food production and new growth opportunities.”

At the same time, it is important to remember that farmers in colder climates must also prepare for more weather instability, more flooding and the risk of more erosion.

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Coffee beans «Coffea stenophylla» in Ivory Coast Foto: E. Couturon, IRD / Reuters / NTB

What can you do?

Neither farmers nor scientists sit with their hands in their arms, waiting for disaster. We are working hard to find solutions.

The industry is looking for new types of plants. They go to the genetic material to find the properties that make them better suited to warmer climates. These are high-tech solutions that can pose new problems. Farmers can become dependent on expensive suppliers. Many question the genetic manipulation.

Sometimes a solution can come as a surprise. It is a long way to get to the nearest research institution when you are in the mountains of Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. There, residents have long drank coffee from a bean that researchers called “Coffea stenophylla”. This is wild coffee. And most coffee connoisseurs curl their noses when they hear it. As a rule, there is nothing good in a cup.

But stenophylla is surprising, tasting very similar to an Arabica bean. But it is much more powerful. According to the BBC, it can handle temperatures 5-6 degrees higher than Arabica.