Climate change, a storm in the coffee cup
Coffee is the third most consumed beverage in the world after water and tea. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) confirms ‘Coffee is the most widely traded tropical product, with up to 25 million farming households globally accounting for 80 per cent of world output’. In 2020, 87% of the global coffee production originated from the top 10 biggest coffee-producing nations, says a report by World Economic Forum.
Experts say changing weather parameters due to climate change has become a serious threat to coffee industry. Farmers in Brazil, the world’s top exporter, are enduring losses owing to adverse weather conditions triggered by climate change. These events are resulting in lower yields that threaten a global supply crunch. The situation in India, among the top 10 coffee-producing nations in the world, is no different. Recently the southern Indian states witnessed a reduction of yield by 30 % for arabica and 20 % for robusta owing to heavy rain. Many farmers have even bid goodbye to coffee cultivation due to the many challenges they have been facing.
As coffee is grow largely in regions that are already experiencing climate change related weather changes, the coffee farmers are very susceptible to climate risk. In this blog, we will share more about the threats they face and the possible solutions to the challenges at hand, and how technological innovation can help.
What impacts the quality of coffee crops?
Coffee is a sensitive crop and needs specific growing conditions for a healthy yield with the best aroma and taste in beans. Researchers have found that farms at higher altitudes produce better coffee flavour and aroma, and that too much exposure to light decreases the quality of the produce. Evidence also suggests that water stress and temperature, nutrient management and carbon dioxide all impact coffee quality.
Crop management, harvest and post-harvest operations also impact the quality of coffee produced. Farmers in different geographical regions have already gained experience in mitigating changing weather patterns by adjusting the standard crop management to maintain high quality of the coffee produced. Monitoring the weather, crop health and potential pest attacks are an integral part of successful coffee farming.
The many threats coffee industry is facing
Arabica coffee grows best in temperatures between 14 and 26°C. So a rise in the average temperatures due to climate change will have significant impact also on coffee production. Some areas of major coffee production may no longer be viable to grow coffee successfully in the future.
Temperature rises can also cause new diseases and pests to attack agricultural crops as the growing conditions change. Crop monitoring becomes ever important to detect these conditions as early as possible so farmers can take preventative measures.
Coffee farmers are also battling with the economic viability of their trade. Production costs are rising with increasing input and wage costs. More frequent extreme weather events are impacting crop yields and coffee price volatility is affecting their profit margins.
Climate-smart approach leveraging technology
Coffee producers are coming up with new best practices to mitigate the challenges they are facing. There is an increasing trend in the application of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) strategies. This approach aims to increase productivity, enhance resilience and reduce emissions. It also involves synergies and negotiation of trade-offs in pursuit of productivity, adaptation and mitigation. It may also open up new funding opportunities for agricultural development. It involves not only farmers but also scientists who offer technological intervention for location-specific issues based on intelligent research data.
Digital technologies, such as IoT-enabled sensors, can empower farmers with critical crop information on a real-time basis. Sensors can monitor the soil conditions, water and irrigation management, as well as crop health-related parameters. Digital analytics and AI based solutions can then be applied to this data. Digital tools such as dashboards, reports and alerts will then guide appropriate action.
ICT solutions can also improve the efficiency of the whole coffee supply chain by monitoring temperature in coffee shipping companies. The products journey can also be traced with geolocation services giving transparency in the value chain.
While the impact of climate change is complex, technology can be leveraged to mitigate the risks of climate change. Digital technologies give the many stakeholders; growers, traders, and enterprises access to modern tools supporting profitable business in the coffee industry. Therefore, a partnership with the right technology partner with experience and expertise can go a long way in making all stakeholders prosperous.
Farmsio’s digital platform digitizes farm data, integrates remote sensing, intelligent analytics as well as dashboards and messaging in its tools. Monitoring and evaluation modules are available to support the stakeholders in the coffee industry to manage their crop health and maximize crop yield in the challenging climate. The platform also gives access to appropriate market places to achieve best income cutting out middle men.
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