Climate Change to affect tropical production of coffee and cocoa in the future

Climate Change to affect tropical production of coffee and cocoa in the future

A new study focuses on coffee distribution in Mesoamerica in connection with climate change, highlighting tropical regions like Panama to Central Mexico. According to experts, coffee production across the equatorial belt is not optimistic. Owing to climate change, coffee limits are depleting and also constraining places where they can grow in the future.

The research team draws attention to the exhausting sources of Arabica coffee. Allegedly, global warming and swerving geographical conditions, combined with extreme weather conditions will affect coffee production. Reasons are attributed to increased susceptibility to pest and diseases, although the team alleges positive results for cocoa production, which will replace coffee in the future.

“This opens a window of opportunity for climate change adaptation,” reports Kaue de Sousa, one of the leading authors of the study. “The interest of smallholder farmers in cocoa is growing, driven by the vulnerability of coffee in the changing climate. Now we have to build capacity among smallholders to adapt their crop systems successfully.” Adds de Sousa.

The study confirms that both types of crops are cultivated under agroforestry management. It is because of the agroforestry management that the production of the crops has become more resilient, as it adds additional ecosystem services to the method.

“Agroforestry systems are clear examples of how positive interactions between plants can ameliorate harsh growing conditions and facilitate agricultural productivity. Our study explores which tree species may be more successful in future coffee and cocoa plantations to create more benign microclimates,” adds Milena Holmgren, a scholar on Ecosystem Resilience to Climate Variability, at Wageningen University.

Moreover, the authors emphasized on top ten trees that were most vulnerable to climate change. The study concluded that 80% of tree species from the coffee area will shrink, in contrast to 62% of trees from the cocoa area. Tree species include fruit trees such as guava, mango, timber, etc. Moreover, 56% of nitrogen-fixing trees advantageous for soil productivity and conservation will also lessen in number.  “Despite the concerning decrease in tree suitability, our study provides alternatives for coffee and cocoa agroforestry under the climate emergency faced by farmers today,” confirms de Sousa.

The research emphasizes that agroforestry systems are the best way to tackle the cultivation of coffee and cocoa farms across Mesoamerica. As a part of the alternative, methods like land planning, improvements in seed sectors, underutilized species, and diversified tree species will need to be adopted.

The study thus lays foundation stone for diversifying agroforestry systems. Furthermore, it also promotes the use of underutilized species and provides a guide to farmers on agroforestry species composition suitable for climate change in the future.