Dip in Tanzanian coffee harvest pushes industry to a tipping point

Coffee plant in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Creative Commons: Kevin Harber, 2010

Coffee plant in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Creative Commons: Kevin Harber, 2010

As temperatures climb, the Tanzanian coffee industry is being hit hard due to low production.

According to recent reports, coffee crops are taking a nosedive due to warmer temperatures, forcing scaled-back production of this commodity. Although the country produces less than 1 percent of the world’s Arabica coffee, the industry remains an employer of nearly 2.4 million Tanzanians.

A study that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Forests Meteorology notes that for every one degree rise in the Tanzania, farmers risk losing 137 kilograms of coffee per hectare — roughly half of the crops yielded by the average small producer.

The study says:

“Our forecast indicates that if the trend continues as has been observed during recent decades, then Arabica coffee production in Tanzania will drop to 145 kg per hectare by the year 2060.”

Alessandro Craparo, author of the study, said:

“Coffee yields have declined to their lowest point in years, with many farmers in Tanzania giving up on coffee completely.”

Climate change impacts to Tanzania’s lucrative coffee industry — which generate over $100 million per year — has forced the government to take some adaptation measures, counselling farmers to move crops towards higher altitudes. Other strategies include producing more climate-resilient varieties of the plant.

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