Need Your Daily Shot Of Espresso?
It’s Time To Wake Up, Before The Coffee Runs Out.
Wake Up Before The Coffee Runs Out!
The senior strategic adviser at the Center for Environmental Leadership, an initiative by Conservation International, Bambi Semroc is going all out with the Sustainable Coffee Challenge. The challenge is to have an industry-wide effort to turn coffee into the first agricultural product in the world that is entirely sustainable.
According to Ms. Semroc, the amount of land around the world that is optimum to cultivate coffee will be cut down by half by 2050. For some of us coffee lovers, this is news enough to keep us up all night.
The coffee trees are very choosy when it comes to the environmental conditions that it demands. Only in those areas of the tropics with the right soil and the correct combination of rainfall and temperature do these trees thrive. Climate change poses a huge problem since they are highly sensitive to any change in the environment. With rains becoming inconsistent and the average temperature going up, coffee trees will no longer do well in places it now thrives in. Which leaves the coffee farmers with no option but to find better grounds to farm in, usually at higher altitudes, clearing off the tropical forests as the move up.
Of course, there is always the alternative – that is to switch over to a different crop. What does all this mean for you? Either the coffee available around the world will start falling drastically and the ones that are available, most probably won’t taste the same or be as good.
You are indeed not alone facing this dilemma. The world is full of coffee lovers, who sip over 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day! By 2050, the demand for coffee is expected to increase by a whopping 150%.
With the ever-rising demand and the equally falling supply, coffee is undoubtedly quite behind in its race to survive. It’s high time, the world geared up to protect this dark brew it so loves by protecting the ecosystem that it depends on and the many millions of farmers who earn their bread and butter from this plant that keeps you awake.
It was her love for trees and the environment, that got Ms Semroc into the field of conservation. In recent years, it turned out to be the coffee tree, whose produce she doesn’t even consume, that has taken much of her energy. Her efforts and time did, however, yield a positive outcome as the coffee industry has woken up to the changing climatic conditions by turning to sustainable methods for cultivating and producing coffee.
This industry-wide effort is what led to the birth of Sustainable Coffee Challenge some two years back. The aim is to unite all the big and small players across the coffee sector, to make it the first agricultural produce that is entirely sustainable. And it’s not merely some wild dream. The world has responded positively, as over 48% of all coffee production is already following sustainable standards at some level.
Since 2015, there has been a steady backing for the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, right from the growers and roaster up to the retailers. Even the governments of coffee growing countries have jumped the bandwagon as the challenge gains momentum. And if a bad-tasting coffee wasn’t enough, there have been a considerable amount of public-campaigns aimed at the billions of coffee drinkers around the world, to educate them on the importance of sustainability.
Of course, it wasn’t always a smooth road for the Challenge to take. The biggest question was, where to start? Which regions around the world are likely to be the worst hit by the changing weather conditions? And, which tropical forests, that also keep the global climate under check, is under the most threat from coffee farmers looking for higher grounds.
As always, science comes to the rescue! Using data from the latest researches, it is now possible to map the locations and analyse the various forests and the corresponding coffee plantations. The data also helps in understanding which areas are most affected by the climate change and thus come up with solutions and preventive measures.
The International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) conducted research recently and found conclusive evidence of coffee plants at lower altitudes requiring adaptation. There was also a strong indication of the coffee taste being affected, in an unpleasant way, in the locations it observed. Another research work by Lee Hannah, Ms Semroc’s colleague, found that by 2050, almost 90% of Latin America’s land, which was most suitable for coffee trees, will suffer the consequences of climate change.
About 25 million small-time farmers form the core group that roughly produces 90% of the worlds coffee supply. The families of these farmers and the people employed on their farms depend on revenue from the coffee sales.
However, all hope is not lost, as both, the researchers have observed that, if the coffee trees, including the forest areas and the bees it needs, are more smartly managed, it will certainly improve the condition of the coffee trees and subsequently of the farmers, as well. The coffee industry, with no choice but to adapt, has stepped up to its responsibilities and have come together to invest around 350 million dollars per year. This investment is expected to solve the coffee crisis using community support, research, sustainable sources and other such programs.
The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is one such organisation that are helping out retailers, through their initiative the Commodity Mapping Project, and using various tools to check the supplier’s performance about issues such as greenhouse gas emission, deforestation etc. The project also helps in identifying where to focus its conservation efforts which will minimise the impact on the tropical forests and the coffee farms.
For some of us, not getting that morning cup of coffee can spoil the mood of the day. It is now pretty evident that coffee production is under threat. So, where do you come in the picture? After all, it is you who need that wake-up drink. How about, the next time you stop at your favourite café or your regular retailer, ask them if they’ve undertaken measures to support sustainability. What steps have they taken to make sure you keep getting your coffee for a long, long time? But first of all, educate yourself on crop sustainability. You can get more information on sustainability at Sustaincoffee.org
Besides, it is also about being considerate for the livelihood of many hard-working small-time farmers and even Mother Earth.
Industrialization and deforestation have brought our planet to a critical stage. Many of the tropical forests, millions of farmers and billions of coffee lovers depend on this crop and its black brew. How the industry responds, and the support the sustainable coffee challenge receives in the coming years will determine the future of this crop and the ecosystem that it demands. Regardless of your love for coffee, this will affect you and your future generations. So help spread the awareness and if you know of companies and retailers already taking measures to ensure sustainability, then let others know through your comments, and let it be an inspiration for more to follow.