"Smell the coffee while you can"
“Weather changes are affecting our coffee supply chains now, and will do so even more over the next five years”.
This is one of the most dominant, stand-out messages from my recent survey of coffee producers, buyers and NGOs for a Masters dissertation.
Many of them are reeling from the effects of exceptional weather patterns over the past year, which vary and are very localised. There have been droughts in Brazil, yet respondees exceptional rainfall and humidity in Ethiopia. It seems that the coffee crop, very sensitive to growing conditions, is being battered on all fronts.
There are many interrelated issues in the tangled coffee ecosystem.
Better management practices, for example preserving and managing shade trees, can help protect coffee against drought. They can also help create the right conditions for 'friendly' bird predators which can help manage pests like the berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei. However trees must be spaced correctly, otherwise they could exacerbate other problems, such as leaf rust.
The working title of the dissertation is “An evaluation of the potential of insetting to provide ecosystem benefits and protect coffee supply chains”. Insetting is akin to carbon offsetting, but within the supply chain of a business. By planting and managing coffee shade trees, a coffee seller can help smallholders adapt to climate change and mitigate carbon emissions at the same time.
I’ll be posting more updates as the dissertation develops. It is being undertaken as the final element of an MSc in forestry at Bangor University.
Posted by: Charlie