Climate change hits small tea, coffee growers worldwide

LONDON: Climate change is already wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of small-scale tea and coffee farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries, according to a three-year research project by Fairtrade drinks producer Cafedirect.

Research across four countries — Kenya, Mexico, Peru and Nicaragua — carried out with the state-funded German Technical Corporation, showed that growers are already being forced uphill to higher altitudes, at a rate of three to four metres a year on average, as temperatures rise.

“A huge number of growers are now experiencing increased instances of pestilence and disease from rises in temperature. They are also facing

prolonged drought and changing weather

patterns,” said Cafedirect chief executive Anne


She argued that the

priority for developed countries should be helping the world’s poor to protect themselves against climate change.

“What’s crucial is that there’s an option of sustainable adaptation to safeguard the supply chain. Climate change is affecting those least able to deal with it. We can’t underestimate that,” she said.

Smaller producers, who are reliant on a single crop and often cannot afford to install costly irrigation equipment as temperatures rise, are worst affected, the project, known as AdapCC, found.

Some farmers could see their incomes plummet by up to 90 per cent in the next fifteen years, the researchers say.

They also argue that worldwide at least 30 million farmers will be affected drastically.

The majorioty of the small-scale growers in Peru has seen yields fall by 40 per cent since last year, compared to 30 per cent across the country as a whole; small producers in Mexico have seen yields halve, against a national decline of 7 per cent, Cafedirect says.

Tea and coffee are on the climate change front

line because they only grow in a relatively narrow temperature range.

Research suggested that all four of the countries involved would see the quantity and quality of their crops decline sharply over the coming years.