Climate change will increase the dominance of the big coffee-producing nations on world output by rewarding countries with the best-resourced research and farmer assistance, a leading commentator said.
Carlos Brando, an adviser on coffee to the International Coffee Organization and the World Bank, said that there measures farmers could take – without moving location – to ameliorate the effects on yields of climate change, which was one of the big topics at last month’s Global Coffee Forum.
These actions include irrigating, shading and mulching trees, besides planting deeper, and adopting varieties better adapted to climatological extremes.
However, enacting such measures looks most likely in countries which have already gained pre-eminence in coffee thanks in part to likes of research programmes and university outreach programmes, said Mr Brando, who is based in Brazil, the world’s top coffee producer.
“It seems that the most competitive producing countries, ie the most advanced technologically and with the best-organised supply chains inside and outside farm gate, are the ones that will adapt best and fastest to climate change,” he said.
“These countries concentrate the bulk of coffee research and have the most advanced extension services and financing systems, to mention only a few factors.
“The tendency for the largest coffee producing countries to increase their market share is likely to be intensified by climate change.”
Asia vs Africa
The comments follow a period already of stark contrast in output growth between major coffee growing regions, with Asia, for instance, emerging as a major coffee-growing region as Vietnam expanded into the bean in part as a boost to its economy after losing support from the collapsed Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, the importance Africa, where farmers in many countries receive relatively low levels of government support, has declined significantly.
In South America, Colombia has undertaken a widespread replanting programme with varieties resistant to coffee rust, a scheme whose results are now becoming evident through fast-increasing production.
The profile of the debate of climate change in coffee is also to be raised by a report from Colombia University on the topic expected to be released later this year.
In Brazil, the growing recent incidence of dryness, even after the unusually low rainfall seen in 2014, has kept the topic on the front burner.
“It is high time that we assume that climate change is here to stay,” said Mr Brando, who is also director at coffee consultancy and trader P&A International.
Undue dryness and elevated temperatures in parts of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s top coffee state, has been a key market topic for the last few weeks, in raising questions over the success of the ongoing flowering process.
“Extremely high temperatures may cause flowers not to turn into cherries and photosynthesis to slow down, with obvious impacts on production figures,” Mr Brando said.
“Temperatures are indeed above average now, at flowering and past-flowering time in Brazil, but not yet at an extreme level.”
Coffee futures slump on Friday on forecasts for rain for parts of Minas Gerais.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/climate-change-to-boost-coffee-giants-grip-on-the-sector–8907.html)