Climate crippling coffee crops

Coffee crops are being hit hard by climate change and yield may plunge over the next 50 years. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Rising temperatures and unpredictable rains are crippling Tanzania’s coffee crops.

“The areas that are suitable to produce coffee are going to shrink drastically,” says Peter Läderach, an expert on tropical agriculture at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture who co-authored a report in the Agricultural and Forest Meteorology journal.

Coffee is extremely sensitive to temperature and rainfall; changing patterns of both have negatively impacting coffee production over the past decades, says the report.

The report tracked 49 years worth of data from the Tanzania Meteorological Agency and found nighttime temperatures rose by .31 degrees Celsius per decade, rendering some traditional coffee growing areas unsuitable for the crop.

“This study provides the first historical ‘on the ground’ evidence that climate change is already impacting the arabica coffee sector in the East African Highlands region.” says the report.

Projected coffee yield in northern Tanzania.

Coffee revenue in the Kilimanjaro area could drop by 28 to 63 percent by 2050, in best and worse case scenarios, says another report from 2013.

The Tanzania Coffee Research Institute says they are working on testing drought and temperature resistant coffee trees, according to an article by the Pulitzer Center.

Coffee is the third largest agricultural export from Tanzania, next to tobacco and cashews, and directly supports the livelihoods of 2.4 million people.

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