A team of scientists from Uganda and the United Kingdom with backgrounds in botany, agriculture, and the coffee industry published an article in the journal Nature Plants. They have pointed out that due to climate change, the world’s coffee growers may soon need to find new ways to grow the popular bean plant. The group outlines three possible options for coffee growers and their preferred option in their paper.
Farmers are among those who will be impacted by climate change. The researchers examined the effects of climate change on coffee bean production in this new study. They observe that temperatures are changing and rainfall is becoming less stable in some areas where coffee bean plants grow. They go on to say that this puts coffee bean production at risk.
The researchers discovered that coffee growers will almost certainly have to change the way they grow their beans. They propose three main options. The options are to relocate to more suitable areas, change how they care for their plants, and switch to different coffee bean plant varieties. According to the researchers, the third option is the most viable.
Currently, the majority of the world consumes coffee made from arabica or robusta coffee beans. In recent years, yields for both have decreased as droughts have limited production in many areas. To keep the coffee flowing, the researchers recommend that coffee growers switch to Liberica coffee bean plants.
They state that the variety has been tested at a number of locations. And has proven to be more resistant to more variable weather conditions. They also point out that the beans remain on the plants after maturing which made harvesting easier.
The researchers acknowledge that switching has drawbacks. Drawbacks such as the tougher skin of the beans. And it will make processing more difficult. If they are not harvested as soon as they ripen, they can begin to ferment. It will destroy the taste of the coffee. The researchers conclude that the switch is worthwhile because farmers may be unable to grow enough arabica beans to meet demand in the coming years.
More information: Aaron P. Davis et al, The re-emergence of Liberica coffee as a major crop plant, Nature Plants (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41477-022-01309-5