Global warming brews trouble for coffee growers

print   ·  

In kodagu, higher temperatures, pest attacks destroy 35% of crop.

“Excess rains and changing weather patterns have led to warm summers, and wet or nil sunshine winters leading to crop ripening early”

Anil Urs

Hubli, Nov. 17

A great degree of uncertainty still exists with regard to how individual coffee producing countries get affected and how climate change will impact its overall coffee production.

India (coffee growers – stakeholders and Coffee Board), in its submission to the International Coffee Council (ICC) in September, said arabica farms in India are already experiencing the negative effects of global warming.

Indian Scenario

In the Kodagu region, some areas have seen rainfall drop by one-third, from 106 inches per year to 70 inches, dramatically changing the ecosystem and growing conditions.

With higher temperatures, too, infestation of arabica plants by the white stem borer has destroyed up to 35 per cent of the crop, and robusta plants, immune to that pest, have been hit instead by the coffee berry borer.

Growers who had never given a thought to irrigation in such a wet climate have had to dig deep, high-volume wells, lowering the water table in the region.

The Union Government is helping farmers monitor the life-cycle of the borers so that a means to fighting them effectively can be designed.

According to Mr Marvin Rodrigues, Vice-President, Karnataka Planters' Association (KPA), weather patterns in coffee growing regions in India has changed in the last three to four years.

“During north-east monsoon, we used to get rains, but not in excess. Excess is to the tune of 30 to 40 per cent,” he added.

“Excess rains and changing weather patterns have led to warm summers, and wet or nil sunshine winters leading to crop ripening early and coffee processing getting affected due to lack of sunshine,” he further added.


As temperature rises, coffee ripens more quickly, leading to a fall in quality. According to Dr Peter Baker, from CABI, if temperatures rise by 3 degree centigrade by the end of this century (some experts believe an increase of up to 5 degree centigrade is possible), the lower altitude limit for growing good quality arabica coffee will rise by roughly 150 feet (46 m) a decade.

This is 15 feet a year, meaning that areas that are currently too cold for growing coffee could become suitable.

Yields hit

Temperature increases affect different aspects of the metabolism of coffee trees, such as flowering, photosynthesis, respiration and product composition, which in turn affect coffee yields. Temperature increases will favour the proliferation of certain pests and diseases, as well as permitting their dispersion to regions where they were previously not present.

Global output

As a result of all the changes in the environment, there is a distinct possibility that fewer parts of the world will be suitable for growing quality coffee. If this were to happen, current trends in concentration of production could become even more pronounced. This in turn could make global production more prone to high fluctuations, as any severe disruption in output from one of the major producers would drastically curtail global output.

Related Stories:
Coffee production likely to be better this season
Global coffee output seen higher by around 11%
Coffee exports up 52% on higher output, better prices

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 18, 2010)
XThese are links to The Hindu Business Line suggested by Outbrain, which may or may not be relevant to the other content on this page. You can read Outbrain's privacy and cookie policy here.



Recent Article in Today's Paper

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday PTI

Manmohan Singh defends UPA record; Modi targets Sonia

Former PM terms corruption chargesa diversionary tactic »

Comments to: Copyright © 2015, The Hindu Business Line.