The impact of climate change and variability on coffee production: a systematic review

Abstract

Coffee is one of the most important globally traded commodities and substantially contributes to the livelihoods of millions of smallholders worldwide. As a climate-sensitive perennial crop, coffee is likely to be highly susceptible to changes in climate. Using a systematic approach, we explore evidence from the published academic literature of the influence of climate change and variability, specifically drought, on coffee production. A number of mostly negative impacts were reported in the current literature, including declines in coffee yield, loss of coffee-optimal areas with significant impacts on major global coffee-producing countries and growth in the distribution of pest and disease that indirectly influence coffee cultivation. Current research also identified positive effects of climate change such as increases in coffee-producing niche, particularly in areas at higher altitudes; however, whether these gains might offset losses from other production areas requires further investigation. Other advantages include increases in pollination services and the beneficial effects of elevated carbon concentration, leading to potential yield improvements. Future priorities should focus on major coffee-growing regions projected to be adversely affected by climate change, with specific attention given to potential adaptation strategies tailored to particular farming conditions such as relocation of coffee plantations to more climatically suitable areas, irrigation and agroforestry. The majority of studies were based in the Americas and concentrated on Arabica coffee. A broader spread of research is therefore required, especially for the large growing regions in Asia and for Robusta coffee, to support sustainable production of the global coffee industry.

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Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully appreciate advice from Dr. Tricia Kelly for the literature search and the valuable suggestions and feedback from two anonymous reviewers.

Funding

We would like to acknowledge the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety through the International Climate Initiative and the University of Southern Queensland for funding this research.

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Pham, Y., Reardon-Smith, K., Mushtaq, S. et al. The impact of climate change and variability on coffee production: a systematic review. Climatic Change 156, 609–630 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02538-y

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