Central America coffee land to shrink as globe warms

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The world’s major coffee-producing countries will see their land suitable for growing the bean shrink by over a third as temperatures rise, according to a study released on Thursday.

The study found that Brazils’ area of suitable coffee land would fall 38 percent, while Central America would lose 43 percent of its coffee-growing areas by 2050 due to climate change.

Japan and Australia, meanwhile, could see suitable coffee land increase by up to 40 percent.

“Coffee is one of the most valuable commodities that we have in international trade,” study lead author Peter Laderach said in a statement. “Understanding how climate change will impact coffee yields has important implications for food security and consumer welfare.”

Coffee is grown in more than 60 countries and, after crude oil, it was the most traded commodity until last year. Brazil and Vietnam are the top producers.

Until now, little has been known about how climate change could affect coffee-growing areas. The new study uses regional climate models to project land suitable for the cultivation of Arabica beans in 42 major coffee-producing nations.

The latest United Nations climate science meetings have warned that coffee-growing areas – both wild and cultivated – could become a casualty of hotter temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and intensifying weather events such as storms and floods.

“Coffee is among the crops most sensitive to climate change,” said Laderach, a senior climate change specialist at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

It was difficult to pin down precise numbers on the potential impact because of growing conditions and quality differences from one country to another, he added.

The study found Arabica coffee production could fall between 50 per cent and 80 per cent in Brazil and Central America.

Coffee harvesting in Colombia, meanwhile, could drop between 10 per cent and 40 per cent by 2050 due to climate change, the study said.

Under a medium-emissions scenario, land suitable for Arabica plantations would also fall sharply in Indonesia and Kenya and see slight drops in Mexico and Ethiopia by 2050.

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