Climate change & your cup of coffee

An uncertain future lies ahead for the coffee producers of Africa.  Africa is a major exporter of high quality coffee, exporting around the globe.  However, recent climate changes is very possibly affecting your favorite cup of coffee.

The African coffee producing countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia have reported direct economic impacts due to unstable and changing climate patterns.  IPS Africa reported how the increased temperatures and humidity in Kenya over the past two years have brought about increased populations of coffee-burrowing insects.  It is in particular Coffee Arabica plantations that are affectively negatively.  From the ground level, women working as coffee pickers are reporting how the increased numbers and resilience of this pest are affecting their livelihoods and ability to make a living.  The climate induced effects on the coffee plantations are resulting in reduced wages, with cumulative economic impacts for the small communities.

Regional scientists believe that increasing coffee plantation biodiversity, can help combat the struggle with climate induced instabilities.  Increasing plantation biodiversity will allow for more natural and sustainable soil conditions and quality, allowing for healthier plants with greater natural resilience to pests.  It can also be expected that the volumes of fertilizer and pesticides required will be lower.  With an increased biodiversity, natural predators will return to the area, controlling the pest insects populations.  The recommended solution to climate change impacts on Africa’s coffee industry: working with nature, and not against it.  Going back to study the way nature operates under natural conditions, and mimicking this is bound to bring greater sustainability levels to the industry.

Photo credits: some rights reserved by max_thinks_sees and  Fernando Stankuns via flickr.

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Filed under Environmental news: South Africa & Africa

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