Coffee and Climate

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The climate change is here. Natural catastrophes used to be abnormalities are becoming more like patterns. Temperatures are rising and the land availability is becoming a huge. Deforestation for agriculture and domestication is severely damaging the weather patterns and disasters like tsunami that are potentially resisted by mangroves are causing damage in the absence of such like never before.

The most affected are the estimated 120 million poor people around the world depend on agriculture for their income. Coffee farmers are no exception. It has been predicted that land available for coffee farming could shrink by fifty percent by 2050.

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What is needed here is not blaming or fighting, rather creative and workable solutions that help the world prepare for what now seems inevitable. Some big corporate are now planning to get onboard and play their part, others already are coming up with solid, appreciable steps that might help lessen the force with which the impacts of changing climate are coming. 
Undoubtedly corporations in sectors such as food and agriculture, utilities and/or manufacturing are ultimately feeling the weather effect on their massive supply chains. But the fact is nine out of ten companies are affected. That is because the communities around the world are suffering, the very communities who supply the workforce, the supplies and the sales for these businesses.

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We are seeing some positive projects already put in place already that are being supported by big corporations.

  • Conservation International helps farmers working with in Costa Rica and Rwanda to take simple steps, preparing them for harsher environment. These steps can be as simple as building coffee shade canopy covers and water and biodiversity maintenance.

  • Levi Strauss is working with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) where farmers are guided about techniques that help them decrease the pesticide usage, water conservation and making better use of irrigation system and border crops.

  • Swiss Re an insurance company works with poor farmers of Ethiopia by helping them engage with community identified projects that help climate cause and in return are funded with insurance premiums by the company.

  • There is new technology like remote sensing, satellite data and computer modeling but most farmers hardly have any access to such technology.

  • Other solutions are opting for more resilient cultivars and species (Robusta is less climate sensitive than Arabica). Small holder coffee producers can benefit from Fair-trade certification but still not all farmers have access to the certification program for a variety of reasons. Coffee producers are required to improve their commercial skills more than ever in order to survive the economical blow.

Rising temperatures, inconsistent rainfalls and increased pest and diseases have already decreased the quantity and quality of coffee being produced. The livelihood of the producer is threatened too. The more the income of a community connected with natural resources the more they are affected. So the burden is not equally distributed, take Ethiopia for an example where a quarter of the population depends upon growing coffee. But the burden is eventually delivered out to the developed countries too.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/sep/27/coffee-climate-change-supply-chain-risk-smallholders-fairtrade-tech 
http://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/01/22/climate-change-is-here-how-companies-are-preparing-for-it/#669cea0d7454

 

 
Coffee WisdomHelena Arlaud