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Coffee Production Threatened by Climate Change

Coffee is the second most internationally traded commodity in the world, and farming it is the livelihood for more than 25 million people. The crop also employs millions more secondarily at roasting facilities, restaurants, cafes and distributors around the world. Coffee can only be produced in a very specific climate. Consequently, coffee production is limited to areas near the equator, including southern Asia, south-central Africa and Central and South America.

Due to the changing global climate, almost all of these regions are seeing drastic reductions in the yield of coffee plants. Tanzanian coffee yield is down more than 50 percent from 1960, which researchers have attributed to increasing night temperatures as well as drought conditions. Virtually all coffee-producing countries are recording an increase in night temperatures of at least 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and in some cases, such as southern Brazil (the world’s largest coffee-producing country), as much as 4.8 degrees Celsius over the past half-century.

Years of below-average rainfall have been on the rise as well, leading to more drought-like conditions in these warm countries and further dampening coffee production. Coupled with periods of extreme rainfall, coffee crops are facing the harshest growing conditions they have faced in modern history.


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