Presented by: J. Nicolas Hernandez-Aguilera - Diego Pons Ganddini
Coffee is one of the most important cash crops in the world as it represents the primary income source for at least 60 million people who depend on this product for food and livelihood. However, the two major challenges to guarantee the coffee industry sustainability are i) low profitability, and ii) increasing climate variability and change. The recent decline in coffee prices has progressively thrown smallholder producers below poverty lines. Thousands of smallholders in different countries have been forced to switch to alternative legal and illegal crops (when possible) or to migrate, looking for better opportunities. Indeed, after a detailed estimation of costs of production at the farm level, we determined that smallholders barely cover their variable costs and consequently are not economically viable. The persistent low prices and unbalanced market conditions impact even more as coffee producers are struggling with higher climate variability and change. Extreme scenarios based on probabilistic models suggest reductions of up to 80% of land suitable for coffee in the mid-long term. However, the global scale and uncertainty associated with those scenarios limit the chances of adopting specific strategies at the smallholders’ farm level. There is an evident lack of understandable and timely climate information that facilitate smallholder's decisions today. Moreover, climate and economic analysis are usually disarticulated at the farm level, limiting the opportunity to identify and generate feasible risk management strategies that could reduce vulnerability and increase resilience. During this seminar we will explore collaboration opportunities to determine and quantify how specific climate events affect the cost structure at the coffee farm level, and to expand access to climate-informed digital tools that facilitate the translation and integration of climate and economic information in decision-making processes. This project has the support of Columbia World Project ACToday. ACToday aims to combat hunger by increasing climate knowledge in six countries where agriculture is vulnerable to the effects of climate variability and change. Four out of the six ACToday countries are particularly dependent on coffee: Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Vietnam.