Climate Change Threatens Global Coffee Production: Climate change is a global issue and has indeed been affecting all economic, social, and environmental activities in each country, territory, region, and financial sector. Coffee producers are well aware of the risks of climate change threatening the sustainable development of Vietnam’s coffee industry and have specific knowledge about coping tools and solutions. Adaptation to climate change is significant and practical in the current situation.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is defined as a change in the state of the climate, identifiable by changes in values. The average and fluctuations of climate characteristics follow a particular trend, which can persist for decades.
Up to now, scientists around the world have agreed to identify the primary impacts of climate change on the Earth, including four main phenomena:
- (1) the temperature of the Earth is getting warmer;
- (2) melting ice and rising sea levels;
- (3) natural disasters and extreme events occur more frequently and more intensely;
- (4) some forms of natural resources are lost or changed in an unfavorable direction.
Since climate change is a new issue in Vietnam and worldwide, understanding its impact on coffee production and developing effective adaptation measures is not challenging. In the framework of this article, the author wants to mention, in general, the impacts of climate change on coffee production.
Coffee Species, Global Coffee Production and Climate
Temperature and rainfall are the two main factors affecting Global Coffee Production. The two main species, Arabica and Robusta, account for more than 99% of Global Coffee Production, with different requirements for temperature and rainfall.
Native Arabica grows in relaxed, shady environments in the highland forests of Ethiopia, where a single dry season coincides with the winter months. The ideal temperature for arabica coffee is between 15 o C and -24 o C. Much higher temperatures will hurt both yield and quality. The annual rainfall requirement is in the range of 1500 mm – 2000 mm, although today, watering methods allow arabica coffee to be grown in areas with lower rainfall.
Robusta is native to the lowlands of Equatorial Africa, particularly in the forests of the Congo River Delta and Lake Victoria Arc in Uganda. Robusta grows best in places with a lot of rainfall, about 2000 mm/year, with altitudes from sea level to 800 m. Rain must be evenly distributed in most months of the year because robusta has a shallow root system.
The ideal temperature range for robusta is between 22 o C, and 26 o C. Robusta is less resistant to very high and very low temperatures than arabica.
Climate Change and Quality
When the temperature is high, the coffee ripens faster, leading to a loss of quality. This argument is supported by the fact that arabica coffee grown at low altitudes in high-temperature tropics often has a lower cup quality than coffee grown at high altitudes. The filling is usually more spongy and may be larger but of lower quality.
If the temperature is assumed to increase by the end of this century by about 3 ° C (some experts believe it could rise by as much as 5° C ). C) the altitude limit for high-quality arabica could be increased by 5 m per year, meaning that areas previously considered too cold for coffee will later become suitable for coffee growing—coffee (e.g., regions in Nepal and China’s Yunnan province). But what is uncertain is whether the upland land will be available for coffee growing.
On the other hand, when the temperature is high, Voi coffee can be grown in a higher area, replacing the traditional growing area of coffee and tea.
Climate Change and Productivity
Suppose climatic factors such as high temperatures occur at sensitive stages of the coffee life cycle, such as the flowering and fruiting period. In that case, yields will be severely reduced, especially when high temperatures accompany high temperatures, according to a decrease in rainfall or a dry period.
Studies also show that when the temperature increases during the flowering and fruiting period, starflowers will appear in Arabica coffee and pollination disorder in Robusta coffee. As a result, many seeds are formless. Achieved, leading to reduced productivity.
When the high temperature exceeds the appropriate threshold of the plant, the photosynthetic efficiency of the plant is reduced, the dry matter accumulation is poor, and ultimately the yield is reduced.
Effects of Climate Change on Pests and Diseases
High temperatures will create favorable conditions for certain pests and diseases and help them spread to areas where they were absent. Studies have shown that problems such as fruit borers, leaf borers, nematodes and rust, and others will increase with high temperatures. As a result, future pest and disease management and control will be more complex and expensive.
According to research and forecasts by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) and the World Bank (WB), in Vietnam, in addition to sea level rise, climate change also changes living conditions. of biological species.
The changing living environment risks increasing pests, with high adaptability, and more severe damage to plants. Several recent studies have shown that many new problems have appeared in many localities in the country, causing heavy losses to agricultural production.
In, it must be mentioned the yellow dwarf epidemic, leaf-curling dwarf disease, black stripe dwarf disease, brown planthopper disease, coffee leaf-eating caterpillars, etc. Recently, the autumn armyworm that damages maize plants and cassava leaf diseases also appeared in many local places.
In the last period of the winter-spring crop in 2022, farmers in the province faced many types of abnormal weather, such as unseasonal rain, cold weather, and increased heat…
Mr. Vi Van Kim, from Thanh Son village, Ea Po commune (Cu Jut), said that the frequency of insects appearing causes damage almost throughout the life of winter-spring crops. Most insects eat leaves, roots, flowers, and fruits.
According to the Provincial Agricultural Development Sub-Department, there are always diverse species of insects and pests in the production environment. However, in recent years, pests on crops such as mealybugs, aphids, branch borers, and leaf-eating caterpillars appear more, with many strange variations.
The damage to these organisms is also severe, mainly because they resist some common pesticides.
Mr. Nguyen Van Vuong, from Thuan An commune (Dak Mil), said he has been growing coffee for over 20 years but only recently came across a caterpillar that eats coffee leaves. Although it does not appear much, killing is brutal because the young caterpillars roll in the leaves.
Mr. Vuong’s family owns 1.5 hectares of coffee. This year, he carried out partial replanting by grafting. But leaf-eating caterpillars appear when young shoots have just come to the grafting period.
Through research, in recent months, coffee leaf-eating caterpillars have also appeared in some provinces in the Central Highlands, such as Lam Dong and Dak Lak… This pest causes damage by biting off young buds, then eating them gradually to the old and old leaves.
Plants with a high density of worms can be eaten without leaves, causing the tree to lose strength and poor growth and development. Caterpillars eat coffee leaves in the evening or early morning. During the day, they often hide, so it isn’t easy to detect.
Also, according to the Provincial Agricultural Development Sub-Department, this pest has no specific pesticide. Therefore, people can use manual measures by killing worms, collecting pupae, and combining some drugs with active ingredients such as Alpha – Cypermethrin, Chlorpyrifos Ethul – Cypermethrin … to spray.
According to experts, the agriculture sector needs to assess the impact of climate change on the outbreak of new pests and diseases. In particular, it is necessary to pay attention to the secondary pests that can become the main ones, causing strong damage to crops.
The Agriculture sector also needs to upgrade, supplement and improve plant protection measures and improve the effectiveness of pest prevention and control in the current climate change conditions.
Climate change and Watering
Coffee-growing areas that did not need irrigation in the past may need to be rinsed again because high temperatures cause intense evaporation, reducing soil moisture. The exploitation of water for irrigation leads to the need to build dams to store water and exploit groundwater, leading to low groundwater levels, consuming fuel and irrigation, and ultimately increasing production costs.
Meanwhile, in other regions, rainfall may increase, and the distribution of rain during the year may fluctuate.
Effects of erratic rain
Unseasonal rain during the flowering period affects fruit set, especially for coffee, which is an obligatory cross-pollination; on the contrary, rain during the harvest period will complicate the drying process and affect the quality.
In the Central Highlands, coffee usually ripens in November and early December. If the rain lasts until the end of December, it will be difficult to harvest and dry, leading to a decrease in the quality of the kernel. The late cessation of rain also makes the flower bud differentiation of coffee trees delayed or reduced, affecting the yield potential of the next crop.
In the period when the fruit accumulates the most robust dry matter (with cassava in the Central Highlands, usually from September to October) if heavy rain lasts for many days, it will hinder the photosynthesis of the tree; the tree lacks energy, so reduces the accumulation of dry matter in the fruit and can cause green fruit drop. Prolonged rain increases the humidity in the garden, which is favorable for fungal diseases such as Fusarium, pink fungus, and rust attack, and damaged plants have reduced yield and grain quality.
However, prolonged rain also has certain advantages: plants have enough water to absorb nutrients more efficiently, grow better, and reduce some sucking pests (such as green aphids, which often develop poorly in the rainy season). So the yield potential in the next crop is higher. When the rainy season lasts longer, the dry season will shorten, reducing irrigation pressure.
Effects of Prolonged Drought
A longer dry season in irrigated coffee-growing areas will exacerbate the situation. Prolonged drought increases the need for irrigation, increases water use, consumes energy and irrigation work, reduces groundwater levels, and increases irrigation costs.
If there is not enough water for irrigation, the plants without water will be damaged; sprouts and flower buds are withered, and young fruits are dropped; Some pests, such as mealybugs and green aphids, have stronger growth conditions.
Effect of strong wind
Strong winds during the dry season will increase evapotranspiration from plants and soil, increasing irrigation needs. Strong winds in wet and dry seasons damage coffee trees, shade trees, and windbreaks mechanically (branching branches, dropping leaves). The situation is aggravated if frequent strong winds are combined with high temperatures during the dry season.
Climate Change and Land Degradation
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land management practices will be the most influential factor in soil organic matter content in the coming decades. Climate change will undoubtedly increase the frequency of strong winds and heavy rains.
Heavy rain combined with strong winds is the leading cause of erosion, leaching soil and nutrients from the ground, reducing the soil’s water-holding capacity, and leading to soil fertility degradation and thinning of the arable soil layer. This is especially important in arid and semi-arid regions, especially when combined with rising temperatures.
Climate Change and Water Storage
In a warmer world, the water cycle will become more intense, inevitably resulting in areas of “very wet” and “dryness” compared to the measured data in the past. Globally, the number of people facing severe drought conditions at any given time is expected to increase due to climate change. Water for humans is not enough; plants will undoubtedly be more deficient.
Impact of Extreme Events
Extreme events can affect agricultural production badly, but building projects against their impact is complex. Perhaps the best-known event is the El Niño phenomenon, irregular but markedly affecting weather in many parts of the world. The term El Nino refers to the large-scale warming of the waters of the Pacific Ocean that occurs every 3-6 years and usually lasts 9-12 months but can also last up to 18 months—a sudden impact on weather around the world.
Forecasting El Niño events (rather than their agricultural results) has been possible since the 1980s when the world had computers powerful enough.
The impact of El Nino on coffee production has been well-studied in the Andean region of Colombia. The El Nino phenomenon in 1998 also affected coffee production in the Central Highlands (the dry season here lasts from November last year to June next year). When this happens, rainfall decreases while solar radiation intensity and temperature increase.
This has reduced production in some areas, especially where rainfall is less than 1500 mm/year, humidity is frequently low, and crops are exposed to a lot of sun. The lack of water at sensitive stages in the development of coffee cherries also brings with it many risks of blackening coffee beans, small kernels, and many other defects, as well as increasing the rate of beans being damaged by weevils.
Some other extreme events such as storms, whirlwinds toppling windbreaks and shade trees, and The hot and dry southwest-southwest monsoon (usually occurs in Phu Quy, Nghe An) causes the temperature to rise above 40 o C for many days, disrupting the metabolism of coffee plants, leading to consistent yield and quality. Reduce. Especially, hoarfrost occurring in high mountainous areas can kill coffee trees, as previously reported in some coffee-producing areas in Son La province.
In short, whether climate change beneficially affects coffee production negatively or in both directions, it still causes disturbances at all stages of the coffee production chain. The global supply of coffee will also be disturbed or disrupted as many agroecological zones in the major coffee-producing countries today may gradually become unsuitable for coffee production.
The cost of coffee production will increase, and the competition for land funds between coffee trees and other crops will intensify. Producers need to find adaptation measures to minimize losses in coffee production due to the adverse effects of climate change. This is also the criterion of sustainable coffee production.