Climatic Change

, Volume 147, Issue 1–2, pp 253–266 | Cite as

The stresses and dynamics of smallholder coffee systems in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains: a case for the potential role of climate services

  • Zack GuidoEmail author
  • Tim Finan
  • Kevon Rhiney
  • Malgosia Madajewicz
  • Valerie Rountree
  • Elizabeth Johnson
  • Gusland McCook


Access to climate information has the potential to build adaptive capacity, improve agricultural profitability, and help manage risks. To achieve these benefits, knowledge of the local context is needed to inform information development, delivery, and use. We examine coffee farming in the Jamaican Blue Mountains (BM) to understand farmer livelihoods, opportunities for climate knowledge to benefit coffee production, and the factors that impinge on farmers’ ability to use climate information. Our analysis draws on interviews and 12 focus groups involving 143 participants who largely cultivate small plots. BM farmers currently experience stresses related to climate, coffee leaf rust, and production costs that interrelate concurrently and with time lags. Under conditions that reduce income, BM farmers compensate by adjusting their use of inputs, which can increase their susceptibility to future climate and disease stresses. However, farmers can also decrease impacts of future stressors by more efficiently and effectively allocating their limited resources. In this sense, managing climate, like the other stresses, is an ongoing process. While we identify climate products that can help farmers manage climate risk, the local context presents barriers that argue for interactive climate services that go beyond conventional approaches of information production and delivery. We discuss how dialogs between farmers, extension personnel, and climate scientists can create a foundation from which use can emerge.



We are grateful for the helpful comments made by two anonymous reviewers. We also call special attention to the talented team of graduate students at the University of West Indies who helped collect data: Anne-Teresa Birthwright, Sarah Buckland, and Jhannel Tomlinson.


This research was funded by the NOAA (grant NA13OAR4310184) with contributions from USAID under the International Research and Applications Project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Mr. Gusland McCook is employed by the Jamaican Coffee Industry Board. All other authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10584_2017_2125_MOESM1_ESM.docx (229 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 228 kb)


  1. Avelino J, Zelaya H, Merlo A et al (2006) The intensity of a coffee rust epidemic is dependent on production situations. Ecol Model 197:431–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Avelino J, Cristancho M, et al (2015) The coffee rust crises in Colombia and Central America (2008–2013): impacts, plausible causes and proposed solutions. Food Security 7:303–321Google Scholar
  3. BOJ (2015) Jamaica in figures 2013. Bank of Jamaica, Kingston.
  4. BOJ (2016) Historical exchange rates. Bank of Jamaica, Kingston.
  5. Braun A, Jiggins J, Röling N, van den Berg H, Snijders P (2006) A global survey and review of farmer field school experiences. ILRI, Endelea, Wageningen, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  6. Brooks N, Adger WN (2005) Assessing and enhancing adaptive capacity. In: Lim B, Spanger-Siegfried E (eds) Adaptation policy frameworks for climate change: developing strategies, policies and measures. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 165–181Google Scholar
  7. Castellanos EJ, Tucker C, Eakin H et al (2013) Assessing the adaptation strategies of farmers facing multiple stressors: lessons from the coffee and global changes project in Mesoamerica. Environ Sci Pol 26:19–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. CIB (2008) Status of coffee leaf rust (Hemileia Vastatrix) in Jamaica. The Coffee Industry Board, Kingston.
  9. Cristancho MA, Rozo Y, Escobar C, et al (2012) Outbreak of coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix) in Colombia. New Dis Rep 25:19Google Scholar
  10. Dilling L, Lemos MC (2011) Creating usable science: opportunities and constraints for climate knowledge use and their implications for science policy. Glob Environ Chang 21:680–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Giannini A, Kushnir Y, Cane MA (2000) Interannual variability of Caribbean rainfall, ENSO, and the Atlantic Ocean. J Clim 13:297–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hansen JW, Mason SJ, Sun L, Tall A (2011) Review of seasonal climate forecasting for agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Exp Agric 47:205–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Herrera D, Ault T (2017) Insights from a new high-resolution drought atlas for the Caribbean spanning 1950 to 2016. J Clim 30:7801–7825Google Scholar
  14. ICAFE (2017) Sistema de Alerta y Recomendación Temprana, Instituto Café de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica.
  15. ICO (2013) Report on the outbreak of coffee leaf rust in central America and action plan to combat the pest. International Coffee Organization, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. ICO (2014) World coffee trade (1963–2013): a review of the markets, challenges and opportunities facing the sector. International Coffee Organization, London, p 27Google Scholar
  17. ICO (2015) Historical data on the global coffee trade. International Coffee Organization, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. IHCAFE (2017) Sistema de Alerta Temprana Para el Cultivo del Café: Boletín No 8 Octubre de 2017. Instituto Hunderaño del Café, TegucigalpaGoogle Scholar
  19. Ingram KT, Roncoli MC, Kirshen PH (2002) Opportunities and constraints for farmers of west Africa to use seasonal precipitation forecasts with Burkina Faso as a case study. Agric Syst 74:331–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kushalappa AC, Chaves GM (1980) An analysis of the development of coffee rust in the field. Fitopatol Bras 5:95–183Google Scholar
  21. Kushalappa AC, Akutsu M, Ludwig A (1983) Application of survival ratio for monocyclic process of Hemileia vastatrix in predicting coffee rust infection rates. Phytopathology 73:96–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lemos MC, Kirchhoff CJ, Ramprasad V (2012) Narrowing the climate information usability gap. Nat Clim Chang 2:789–794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Meadow AM, Ferguson DB, Guido Z, et al (2015) Moving toward the deliberate co-production of climate science knowledge. Weather Clim Soc 7:179–191Google Scholar
  24. MICAF (2017a) All-island fertilizer prices. Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture, Kingston, Jamaica.
  25. MICAF (2017b) Agricultural data. Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture, Kingston.
  26. Mighty MA (2015) Site suitability and the analytic hierarchy process: how GIS analysis can improve the competitive advantage of the Jamaican coffee industry. Appl Geogr 58:84–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mighty M (2016) The Jamaican coffee industry: challenges and responses to increased global competition. In: Beckford LC, Rhiney K (eds) Globalization, agriculture and food in the Caribbean: climate change, gender and geography. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp 129–153Google Scholar
  28. Moss RH, Meehl GA, Lemos MC, et al (2013) Hell and high water: practice-relevant adaptation science. Science 342:696–698Google Scholar
  29. Plumer-D'Amato P (2008) Focus group methodology part 1: considerations for design. Int J Ther Rehabil 15(2):69–73Google Scholar
  30. Rahman T, Buizer J, Guido Z (2016) The economic impact of seasonal drought forecast information service in Jamaica, 2014–2015. ​Paper prepared for USAID. University of Arizona, p 62. See
  31. Rayner RW (1961) Germination and penetration studies on coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix B. & Br.) Ann Appl Biol 49:497–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Reid RS, Nkedianye D, Said MY et al (2009) Evolution of models to support community and policy action with science: balancing pastoral livelihoods and wildlife conservation in savannas of East Africa. Proc Natl Acad Sci 113:4579–4584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Talbot JM (2015) On the abandonment of coffee plantations in Jamaica after Emancipation. J Imp Commonw Hist 43:33–57Google Scholar
  34. Thomas CY (1964) Coffee production in Jamaica. Soc Econ Stud 13:188–217Google Scholar
  35. Vogel C, O’Brien K (2006) Who can eat information? Examining the effectiveness of seasonal climate forecasts and regional climate-risk management strategies. Clim Res 33(1):111–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. WMO (2011) Climate knowledge for action: a global framework for climate services—empowering the most vulnerable. The report of the high-level taskforce for the global framework for climate services, WMO-no, 1065th edn. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, p 248Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of the EnvironmentUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.School of AnthropologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  4. 4.Center for Climate Systems ResearchColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.School of Natural Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  6. 6.Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on AgricultureKingston 6Jamaica
  7. 7.The Coffee Industry Board of JamaicaKingston 13Jamaica

Personalised recommendations