As temperatures rise in Africa, experts predict a dramatic decline in coffee availability, leaving farmers with an uncertain future and putting the $2.5 billion market at risk.
Currently, coffee production is stable, according to Africa Business, but the publication believes that the days of producing the world’s most popular bean are numbered.
Kenneth Barigye cultivates Arabica beans on Mount Elgon, a dormant volcano on the Ugandan-Kenyan border.
Additionally, he cultivates the crop in the Rwenzori Mountains and in Kisoro, Uganda, a nation whose coffee exports reached a 30-year high last year.
Barigye, managing director of Mountain Harvest, stated, “We are experiencing yield shocks due to adverse weather and the burdens of pests and disease, which have a significant impact on the incomes of smallholder farmers.”
“Lack of access to financing to purchase essential inputs exacerbates these problems, resulting in poor soil nutrition and low quality and productivity of coffee.”
Arabica is sold in the majority of coffee shops, including Starbucks, Costa, and Seattle Coffee Company. In order to grow, the bean requires high altitudes and cold temperatures, unlike the less popular Robusta.
Robusta can be grown at much lower altitudes and temperatures.
In recent years, global coffee consumption has increased dramatically, but climate models predict that as temperatures rise, the crop’s availability will decrease dramatically.
According to data from Statista, the majority of coffee-producing countries are in Africa, with Ethiopia being the leading exporter with over US$1.2 billion in annual exports and Uganda ranking second with approximately US$594.2 million.
A study conducted earlier this year indicates that climate change will significantly reduce coffee production in the majority of African nations by 2050, with West Africa expected to be the hardest-hit region.
Coffee was found to be the most susceptible crop to climate change when compared to cashew and avocado.
“Coffee is extremely sensitive to even slight temperature increases, and the effects can vary depending on the stage of the crop. According to Michael Hoffman, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, “a little warming at the wrong time can affect yield, aroma, and flavor.”
Flooding and droughts, which are predicted to become more frequent as a result of climate change, can also stunt growth, as excessive rainfall can cause mold and impede harvesting, and coffee fruit does not grow as expected during droughts.
The increasing global temperature, according to Hoffman, would spell disaster for African coffee farmers.
As climate change impacts intensify, the difficulties faced by coffee farmers in Africa will only worsen. Some scientists predict that by the middle of the 21st century, the suitable land for coffee cultivation in Africa will have shrunk by half.
Bariyige added, “The current climate change trajectory has additional effects on our business in addition to its effect on our growth.” As an exporter of specialty coffee, I require optimal conditions to produce coffee cupping above 84 points.
“These conditions include slow cherry growth to maximize sugar absorption and slow drying. As the temperature rises, we will observe rapid growth, which will affect both sugar absorption and the size of the cherry. Additionally, hot weather will accelerate drying, which has a negative impact on the quality of the coffee.”