For bananas and plantains, climate change may significantly alter both yields as well as vulnerability to diseases, which would affect the food security and incomes of millions of Africans and Latin Americans. The East African Highland Banana, for example, is a starchy staple for 80 million people in Africa alone. Zoom in to see area harvested (2009) for the East Africa highland banana.
The research comes from new studies on "climate proofing" key crops across the tropics. The studies by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) highlight how climate change will impact crops that are critical to food security in the developing world, and what adaptation strategies can help reduce these impacts.
A New York Times article this month reports on the dwindling yields and rising prices of Colombian and Central American coffee, due to climate change. The article mentions some startling statistics: Colombian coffee production has fallen by 37% since 2006; prices in futures contracts have increased 85% in the last 8 months, and coffee companies and cafés in the U.S. have been raising prices by 20% to keep up. Climate change will thus affect coffee producers and consumers alike.
As a recent CIAT Policy Brief on Mesoamerican coffee explains, heat lessens the climatic suitability of coffee, especially high-quality, acidic Arabica coffee. It also brings more pests and diseases, such as coffee rust, which destroyed large swaths of last year's coffee crop in Cauca, a major coffee-growing department in Colombia. Read more »
The 6-minute photostory documents the experiences of smallholder coffee farmers in Colombia’s southwestern Cauca department, who are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures on their crucial, high-value cash crop. It is the first in a recent three-part series documenting the challenges of climate change to smallholder farmers in South America and Africa. (Ver abajo para la descripción en español.)
Subiendo dos grados: COLOMBIA. Los pequeños productores de café en Colombia pueden vislumbrar los efectos del cambio climático en este cultivo vital y de alto valor.
La Cumbre de Cambio Climático en Cancún ha debatido y aprobado un objetivo global de aspirar a un aumento máximo de la temperatura promedio mundial de 2ºC como consecuencia del cambio climático. Aún un aumento de 2ºC, sin embargo, tendrá un impacto significativo sobre la agricultura. Una manera de demostrarlo es analizando sistemas agropecuarios que están a corta distancia geográficamente pero tienen una diferencia de 2 grados en su temperatura promedio. En esta parte de la serie “Subiendo dos grados” creada por el Centro Internacional para la Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) nos enfocamos en el café en el suroeste de Colombia. En esta región, sistemas agrícolas separados por 400 metros en altitud tienen una diferencia de temperatura de 2 grados. Cuesta abajo, en la zona más cálida se puede vislumbrar el futuro de los sistemas de café en un escenario futuro de incremento de 2 grados centígrados. Allí, los cultivos sufren efectos devastadores de las plagas y enfermedades y los productores están cambiando a cultivos menos rentables.
To illustrate the impact of a 2-degree temperature change, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in collaboration with CCAFS, documented the impact of a two-degree rise on coffee production in Colombian Andes, a crucial cash crop for small-scale Andean farmers who supply the multi-billion dollar gourmet coffee market.
The Ghana case study highlights the displacement of African farmers who will be forced to abandon semi-arid, dry areas that can no longer support food production.
While decision makers in Cancun negotiate the latest high-level climate deals, the stories and testimonies featured in Two Degrees Up give a glimpse of what life is like on the ground, and emphasize the importance of finding sustainable, scientific solutions to enable small farmers around the world to adapt to the challenge of climate change.
Even as international climate change negotiations are about to start, experts acknowledge the need for (and efficacy of) local solutions too.
Excerpts from a New York Times article by Elizabeth Malkin, Nov 22, 2010:
"Three decades ago the Zapotec Indians here in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico fought for and won the right to communally manage the forest. Before that, state-owned companies had exploited it as they pleased under federal government concessions.
"They slowly built their own lumber business and, at the same time, began studying how to protect the forest. Now, the town’s enterprises employ 300 people who harvest timber, produce wooden furniture and care for the woodlands, and Ixtlán has grown to become the gold standard of community forest ownership and management, international forestry experts say.
"....In developing countries, where the rule of law is weak and enforcement spotty, simply declaring a forest off-limits does little to prevent illegal logging or clearing land for agriculture or development.
"....A recent Cifor study reported that more than a quarter of the forests in developing countries are now being managed by local communities. The trend is worldwide — from China to Brazil..."
Some excerpts on the situation in CIAT's home base--
"Often described as the most biodiverse nation per square kilometer in Latin America, Colombia is home to relatively intact swathes of Amazon rainforest and an almost pristine Pacific coastline.
The country's protracted armed conflict has partly helped to preserve forests, has discouraged large-scale industrial projects in Colombia's biodiverse hotspots and has kept major logging companies in the Amazon at bay. 'Colombia is basically unspoiled. The country has an enormous starting point for sustainable development,' said Juan Manuel Soto, head of Green Action in Colombia, a global non-governmental organisation that campaigns to reduce deforestation.
...But protecting Colombia's biodiverse regions and keeping carbon emissions low is a pressing challenge as Latin America's third most populous country becomes more developed. Read more »
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)