Researchers in Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, along with scientists in Ethiopia have concluded that 38 to 99.7 percent of areas suitable for wild Arabica coffee to be grown will all but disappear by the year 2080 due to rising temperatures and dramatic climate change.
Coffee crops are highly dependent on suitable climates, therefore an increase in temperature, even by a few degrees, can put coffee crops greatly at risk. Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens says “The extinction of Arabica coffee is a startling and worrying prospect”. This extinction could potentially wipe out farms and negatively impact the livelihood of the coffee farmers in these regions.
Aaron continued in a phone conversation with Reuters, saying that the findings make it even more important for organizations, like the World Coffee Research collaboration, to continue to work to improve the genetic strength of cultivated Arabica and preserve the wild types.
The results of the research have been published in the Public Library Science Journal. After researchers conducted two types of analysis – locality analysis and area analysis. The locality analysis, they found the best outcome was a 65% fall in the number of pre-existing bioclimatically suitable locations, and the worst was a 99.7% reduction. In the area analysis, the best outcome was 38% and worst was 90%.
Factors such as pests, disease, changes in flowering times, possible bird reductions, etc. were not included in this study. However, these changes could potentially negatively impact crops as well.
Commercial coffee growers should still cultivate with no problem, despite the changes, due to their plantations and crops being designed to grow in the right conditions. However, if wild Arabica takes a hit like this, it will be traumatic for local farmers and will offer a much less diverse selection of coffee at that.