Why Climate Change Is Not a Myth...and It is Effecting Your Coffee
By Beth Garrison, CEO, Operant Coffee
Ethopia was the source of arabica coffee bean production in the world. According to Elias Gebreselassie, writer for Reuters, temperatures have risen in the country over the last few years (as high as 2.3 degrees Farenheit), and the country has experienced significant droughts over the last year.
This has made the coffee production drastically decrease, and the coffee trees have become more susceptible to disease. Coffee farmers are now being advised to grow their plants at higher elevations, where the temperatures have risen to favorable conditions to grow coffee, and the plants are less susceptible to disease. Though this seems like a simple solution, this can be challenging for a number of reasons.
The largest challenge for coffee farmers is cultivating trees that grow and prosper. A typical coffea plant will take 5 years to grow before it produces enough coffee "cherries" with the seed of the cherry inside (the "coffee bean"). If the population is wiped out through drought or disease, it can take another five years to produce more coffee, thus drastically reducing the coffee farmer's daily living.
The second challenge that Gebreselassie cites with the relocation of coffee farms to higher elevations is a cultural one. Traditionally, coffee has been grown by farmers in lower elevations, and as farms move to higher elevations to match the changing temperatures, the people in those regions are not coffee farmers, and do not have a background in coffee farming, which can take years to learn.
Ultimately, with climate change, most coffee exports in the world will need to adjust, or be wiped out completely. Time is not on our side as it takes years to cultivate a coffee plant. Countries that export coffee will need support to come up with solutions for climate change, as well as support in cultural changes as regions of coffee farming shift.
I see this as an area that Behavior Analysis can support. We have a science that can teach the rapid acquisition of skills in this area, and models in training and development that can facilitate teaching coffee farming to new areas. The biggest hurdle, however; will be to make sure that people located in the new areas are motivated to learn coffee farming.
So, what do you think? How can we help this? Leave a comment below!