Climate change threatens the future of coffee
By 2050, 50 percent of the areas used for coffee cultivation could disappear. The two largest coffee producers, Brazil and Vietnam, would be particularly affected.
Monday, November 15, 2021
Will we soon have to give up our daily morning coffee? It is uncertain whether it will turn out that bad. In any case, a study from 2014 indicates that close to 50 percent of the acreage that is suitable for growing the two varieties Arabica and Robusta could disappear by 2050. The price of coffee is also expected to increase. The reason for this is climate change. Although coffee production could move further north in the future, this would have bitter consequences for existing coffee farmers. An estimated 100 million people are involved in coffee production worldwide. Many millions also work in processing and trade. Already today, the working conditions are in some cases precarious. There is a risk that the situation could worsen further.
Global breeding network
Due to climate change, the growing conditions for crops are changing, in some cases drastically. Therefore, new varieties must be bred with properties that, for example, can still be exposed to greater heat and water scarcity. The organization “World Coffee Research” is launching a global breeding network next year with the aim of promoting modern plant breeding technologies in producer countries. Research is also carried out into which newly bred varieties grow best in which environment.
New varieties thanks to genome editing
With genome editing, decaffeinated coffee, which is often unsatisfactory in taste, could be made tastier. In a gfs survey that asked about Swiss consumers’ acceptance of genome editing for various purposes, this probably failed as a “pure lifestyle purpose”. However, applications that make plants more resistant to climate change were very clearly supported by 76 percent.
The demand for regional products could hardly be greater. This is shown by a new study by the Zurich School of Business. Consumers even consider regional products to be significantly more sustainable than organic or premium products. To keep up with this trend, it is therefore all the more important to promote modern breeding techniques and plant protection products.
The reduced use of plant protection products is causing much smaller wheat and rapeseed harvests. A study carried out by Swiss Agricultural Research reveals that such crop failures can only be offset by state subsidies. This is neither sustainable nor resource-efficient.
The economic interdependence of the world has increased greatly over the past years and decades. Due to the brisk trade activity between the continents, invasive plant and animal species are also spreading faster and faster. This can lead to serious problems for native vegetation and agriculture. According to the FOEN, the canton of Ticino is particularly affected.